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Food and Travel Arabia - January 2018

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Game on:
La Vinoteca
A luxury safari
Iberian style
Turks &
A Dutch Master
Island Festival
Urban Eatery
Tom Aikens
The Big Breakfast
The interview
Romain van Durmen
Lima Dubai
Richard Raab
Editor Charlie Thompson
Associate Editor Ali Ahmed
Art Director Rebecca Teece Paye
Art Editor Maggie Bonner
Review Editor Mona Mohammed
Online Editor Husain Khaled
Social Media Editor Darcey Gibbs
Features Editor Nick Baines
Consulting Editor Sarah Price
Contributing Editor Adrian Back
Contributing Editor Anthea Rowan
Editor-at-Large Marie Barbieri
Editor-at-Large Kevin Pilley
Feature Correspondent Sophie Ibbotson
Feature Correspondent Joe Worthington
Director of Publishing Francesca Jackson
Executive Director Salah Alhaiki
Account Director Oliver Davies
Editorial Enquiries
Sales & Advertising
General Enquiries
Food and Travel, UK
Mark Sansom, editor
Food and Travel, Germany
Stefanie Will, editor
Food and Travel, Mexico
Cecilia Núñez, editor
Food and Travel, Turkey
Mehmet Tel, editor
Food and Travel, Italy
Marco Sutter, publisher
Food and Travel, Portugal
Jose Fragoso, publisher
PPA Independent Publishing Company of the Year
PPA Publisher of the Year
Food and Travel Magazine is published by Green Pea
Publishing Ltd, Ingate Place, London, UK. Food and Travel
& Food and Travel Arabia are published under license from
Turnstart Limited, a UK company. Gulf Publishing Ltd, a UK
company and Gulf Digital WLL are the exclusive licensed
agents for Food & Travel Arabia in the GCC under copyright
of Green Pea Publishing. All rights of the licensed material
belong to Turnstart Limited and may not be reproduced
whether in whole or in part without its prior written consent.
The name “Food and Travel” is the property of Turnstart
Limited. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the
Publisher. Unsolicited manuscripts and photographs are not
accepted and will not be returned
Taste the experience
Experience the taste
n the Middle East, we are now amongst the world’s most adventurous
travellers and gastronomers. Horizons are broad, tastes eclectic.
Every month, Food and Travel Arabia brings these two naturally
complementary interests together in a single magazine. Food and
Travel Arabia is about adventure, the quest for new foods and new
flavours, and the discovery of new places and new friends.
Our best travel and food writers have been briefed to search the world for
exciting destinations, the latest restaurants and the finest cooking. The
result is award winning editorial covering the world’s favourite pastimes food, drink and travel. Every month we get up close and personal with some
of the region’s kitchen favourites to talk seasonal produce and personal
culinary development, inspiration and of course key interviews. Our expert
team seeks out gastronomic gems in some of the world’s most exciting
destinations marrying food and travel in beautifully photographed features
to whet your appetite. Get the low down on the latest in haute cuisine with
expert opinion and insights from some of the world’s most talented award
winning and Michelin Starred chefs. Read honest and independent hotel and
restaurant reviews from around the region and around the world; Recreate
the chefs’ favourite dishes at home from our detailed recipe section and
follow the progress of your favourite restaurant, hotel or destination
throughout the year in the Food and Travel GCC Awards.
Bon Appétit
January 2018
Seven seas of wry Food and
Travel columnist Kevin Pilley |
visits the Turks & Caicos
Conch Festival
Sky-high dining At.mosphere
is located on 122nd floor of the
Burj Khalifa guaranteeing breathtaking views
Going underground A tour of
Turkey’s underground cities of
The Rock Gibraltar has seen
civilisations come and go leaving
behind unique architecture,
attractions, and myths
La Vinoteca Barcelona
Inspiring cuisine, chic
Mediterranean style and an
authentic Spanish dining
Peruvian chic Lima Dubai
offers modern Peruvian cuisine
from award-winning chef Virgilio
News This month we visit the
region’s latest places to stay
and eat
The Food and Travel Awards
It’s that time – discover who has
made the final expert judging
round of the 2018 Awards
The interview Two Michelinstarred Tom Aikens, the
youngest British chef to earn two
Michelin stars
Richard Raab The driving
force behind Four Seasons
Bahrain Bay
Sergio Herman We catch
up with the three Michelin-starred
Dutch Master in Dubai
Management by Design
Meet Sandra Tikal GM of Dubai’s
iconic Palazzo Versace
Hotel talk Anne-Marie Dowling
talks about hospitality and the
Middle East
The last word Romain van
Durmen, Chef de Cuisine for The
Chefs Palette, Cooking Studio
Game on Discover an exclusive
safari lodge, in Zambia’s remote
Liuwa Plains National Park
awaits the healthy lifestyle-lover.
The pantry We discover tasty
festive recipes for Napa cabbage
and healthy oats
Simply the best The latest
recipes from the kitchens of folly
by Nick & Scott
Chef’s Palette Channel your
inner-Heston at Fairmont the
Palm’s cookery studio
Places to eat Michelin plates
on high in Berlin, theatrical
American in London’s West End,
a bunch of brunches and some
Italian cheer
Places to stay A brutal
redesign in Phuket, colonial
luxe in New Delhi, time to get
cosy in the Cotswolds, and dine
in the ultimate gourmet escape
A little of what you fancy We
find out why just a little of what
you fancy, really can do
you good
Recipes This month’s collection
of mouth-watering recipes for
you to try at home
Simply Seychelles Palmfringed white beaches, balmy
waters & lush green islands
The big breakfast Nomad
Urban Eatery delivers exceptional
food and a chic dining
When the festive energy of Spain meets the warm spirit of
Bahrain, something incredible happens.
Welcome to the new La Vinoteca Barcelona, the home of
authentic Spanish food & culture in Bahrain. Enjoy our
little piece of ‘España’ right in the heart of Adliya.
19 Yousif Ahmed Al-Shirawi Avenue, Block 338, Adliya, Bahrain
+973 1700 7808 | |
The Anandi
Hotel & Spa
he latest edition to the Leading Hotels of the World
collection opens in February 2018. This stylish
contemporary hotel has been designed to be
the ultimate sanctuary in Shanghai. At the core of
its offerings is the principle of balancing physical,
emotional and spiritual well-being. Centrally situated
in the Hong Qiao hub, adjoining the Su Zhou River,
it is ideally located for the city’s main commercial
districts. 277 guest rooms, 48 suites and 8 villas
all feature the latest in green technology and
enjoy exclusive butler service. The innovative
wellness centre provides a new concept of
integrated healing, delivering a collection of
health and well-being solutions for overall
body rejuvenation, mindfulness, and
energy balance therapies.
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The ‘salt of life’ is everywhere when you take a moment to look, celebrating the
SALT of life through art, entertainment, and an active lifestyle. SALT sprouted
from an airstream trailer at Dubai Kite Beach with the idea that real ingredients
taste better. It is more than just a burger place where you eat quickly and go.
Salt takes pride in creating its own lifestyle where you are welcomed as part of
the Salt family, calling everyone ‘Salters’ and going the extra mile to make sure
everyone enjoys the experience. It is meant to be a destination that makes
residents feel like tourists and tourists feel like residents. Just like the ingredient
that enriches the flavour of a meal, SALT adds life to underserved locations,
creating an environment like no other. #FindSALT in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman,
and Al Ain, doing random pop-ups across other places in the UAE, and now in
Khobar, Saudi Arabia, with events such as the Gravity DXB crew who
showcased their athletic abilities, while budding artists joined calligrapher and
artist Rafa Ayn at SALT Kite Beach.
Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay towers on the
north-eastern waterfront of Manama, capital city
of Bahrain. Located in the Lower Lobby of the
68-storey tower this lively indoor-outdoor
restaurant has something to suit every taste and
features an incredible Friday Winter Brunch; a
special dining experience for the whole family.
The lavish culinary offerings, including five unique
food stations serving Arabic, Western, Indian,
Japanese and Chinese delicacies and winter
inspired dishes using seasonal ingredients to live
the season spirit including stews, BBQ, roasted
chestnuts, fondue, Raclette and more. Enjoy
special chestnut giveaway after your meal. Shisha
is also available on the restaurant terrace during
brunch hours. Friday Winter Brunch is served
between 12:30pm – 3:30pm every Friday until
February 9. Prices start at $80pp incl. soft drinks.
For more information call +973 1711 5500 or visit
Dubai’s new pasta hotspot, Ravioli & Co., is now open in Burj Daman, DIFC. This
new home-grown interpretation of classic Italian cuisine set in an authentic trattoria.
With rustic décor, old flooring, aged wooden tables, exposed ceiling, wire lights,
antique accessories and an open kitchen, Whether you dine inside or on the
terrace, the restaurant emanates a quaint charm. From Italian breads such as
focaccia and grissini baked in-house to fresh handmade pasta, Ravioli and Co.
delivers an unpretentious Italian experience; delivering the essence of home-style
cuisine for which Italy is known and loved. Head Chef Eros Brambilla, has created a
menu that includes freshly made pasta dishes, prepared daily by an in-house
sfoglina (pasta lady) such as: Ravioli Al Nero Di Seppia; black ravioli stuffed with cod
fish, potato, and lemon zest, Tagliatelle Al Ragu’Di Fassona; tagliatelle with fassona
beef ragout, Gnocchi Alle Melanzane; eggplant gnocchi, asiago cheese, cherry
tomato sauce, and Filetto Con Porcini; beef fillet with porcini sauce. Seal your meal
with a classic Italian dessert, including Tiramisu Con Nutella; a traditional tiramisu
with a twist, Torta Paesana; traditional grandma cake with chocolate, raisins and
pine nuts, or Bonnet; chocolate cake with amaretto biscuits. Ravioli & Co. is open
daily from noon to midnight. For more information call +971 4 2411616 or visit
Opening this month Angsana Zhuhai Phoenix Bay
with 202 rooms, suites and lofts is located on one
of the most beautiful spots in Phoenix Bay,
surrounded by mountains and beaches. Explore
the beautiful seaside city or take a stroll along the
tranquil Lovers’ Road, meandering between green
rolling mountains and the sparkling sea. It is the
perfect getaway. Located on the coast, this
perfect location enjoys easy access to the city
centre or the Macau border, a mere 20-minute
drive and only an hour away from Zhuhai Jinwan
Airport. It is a great getaway destination www.
Conrad has opened its first hotel in Colombia. The oceanfront
oasis on the north side of the iconic Walled City welcomes you
to the shores of the Caribbean Sea. Conrad Cartagena has 109
uniquely designed guestrooms and suites, featuring neutral
tones, contemporary wood furniture, marble décor, and artwork
from Colombian artists, Pedro Ruiz and Kiko Kairuz. Large
windows and high ceilings provide natural light and views of the
Caribbean Sea or the expertly designed, Jack Nicklaus golf
course. Conrad Cartagena’s vibrant dining scene features
cuisine from land and sea, alongside craft cocktails; restaurants
include Biblioteka – a signature restaurant inspired by Chef
Gabriela Gómez’s culinary experiences in Asia, Europe and Latin
America, Adesso Tu – changing from day to night, has an
expansive kitchen that offers a daily breakfast buffet, becoming
a cosy pizzeria for lunch and dinner, Market Café – a Colombian
coffee house, and Son y Ron – the beautiful lobby bar which is
the architectural anchor of the hotel welcoming you with a rumcentric menu and live music. Other amenities include five
swimming pools; an 18-hole Golf Course designed by Jack
Nicklaus; and signature Conrad itineraries, which let you
immerse yourself into the local culture. Conrad Cartagena is
offering special opening rates starting at US$189 per night.
For more information visit
A date for your culinary diary: Dubai’s annual citywide culinary
celebration, returns on 22 February – 10 March 2018,
offering the foodie in all of us a program of events, activities
and promotions. The 5th edition of the Dubai Food Festival
brings together the best of Dubai gastronomy, and shines a
spotlight on wide range of cuisines available throughout the
city, from the fine dining to hidden eateries off the beaten
track. Presenting the latest food trends and concepts, where
award winning gourmet dining can be enjoyed for an
exceptional price, Dubai Food Festival offers a feast of food
related events that is sure to whet the appetite of foodies
from across the globe. Highlights of the 2018 edition include
Dubai Restaurant Week, Beach Canteen, Hidden Gems,
and Taste of Dubai and more. Residents and visitors alike will
be able to take advantage of exclusive offers by purchasing
the DFF Pass on sale in early 2018 offering citywide deals
and promotions throughout the DFF period. For more
information visit
Masti is an Indian inspired, passionately different and deliciously new
dining destination located on the shores of one of Dubai’s most
prestigious new developments, La Mer. Masti infuses modern with
tradition, colour with flavour, creating an expression of ‘New India’.
Dynamic and daring the restaurant offers a stunning array of inspired
plates, that take cues and influence from a variety of global flavours.
From the mind of legendary and award-winning chef Hari Nayak, the
menu offers a reinterpretation of Indian cuisine, designed to share. From
small to large plates, to culinary journeys for two and irresistible side
dishes, you will be spoilt for choice. Highlights include, Black Bass
Ceviche, a Masti take on a Peruvian classic with lime, jalapeno and
crispy Plantain, offering a mouth-watering combination; Bhatti Merguez
delivers a heady mix of African and Indian flavours with succulent lamb,
caramelized onion and a chili garlic masala; and even the fries offer a
flavour surprise, prepared with Togarashi spice and finished with a truffle
cream melt. The plush interior is rich with texture and bold colours. The
beachfront terrace and lounge is open from day to night offering an idyllic
dining location providing an enjoyable laidback experience. The upstairs
bar affords panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf; savour tempting bar
bites or share a selection of Masti’s exquisite treats, as the resident DJ
sets the mood.
If you are looking for a great value business lunch at
Baharat located in Le Meridien Bahrain City Centre. Enjoy
a section of Middle Eastern and Indian fusion cuisine
inspired by the restaurant name Baharat (Spices), the
food is prepared in open kitchen, and features a tandoor
oven & indoor grill. The Business Lunch buffet is priced at
$39, The Soup & Salad buffet is $18, and served from
12:30pm – 4pm daily. Try BBQ night; a stylish yet rustic
BBQ experience on the Baharat terrace and savour the
juicy BBQ ribs and tenderloin steak as you enjoy live
music from The Deux Song. The BBQ Buffet is served
from 1pm – 11pm every Wednesday evening. Prices start
at $65 incl. soft drinks. Or enjoy the delights of Seafood
Night, where you can indulge in a wide selection of fresh
oysters, prawns, lobster, sushi, clams, fresh fish filleted &
Mussels cooked to your taste. The Seafood Buffet is
served from 7pm – 11-m every Thursday. Prices start at
$65 incl. soft drinks. For more information call +973 17
171 1441 or visit
The Arabian Jewel Fujairah
Often referred to as the ‘Arabian Jewel’, beguiling Dibba, Fujairah is
now home to the InterContinental Fujairah Resort, an exceptional
destination where Arabian hospitality meets luxury. The resort is a
beachfront property situated on the shoreline of the exquisite Al Aqah
Beach, set against the spectacular backdrop of the Hajar Mountains.
The luxury resort consists of a series of low-rise Arabesque villagestyle buildings and combines contemporary design elements with
strong Arab influences that reflect the local heritage and culture.
Resort amenities include, a gymnasium, O Spa by L’Occitane,
offering an extensive menu of signature therapies, as well as four
meeting rooms, a boardroom and a ballroom. The hotel boasts two
gourmet dining options including Nama, a truly indulgent dining
experience with an elaborate selection of international dishes and
Drift, a casual style beach bar and grill. Kids of all ages can enjoy a
family pool, Kids’ Club and a Teen’s Club designed to entertain the
two age groups. A babysitting service ensures that parents are able
to relax and unwind while their young ones are being looked after and
delighted by the experienced hotel staff.
The Rocco Forte Brown’s Hotel located in the heart of Mayfair,
opened its doors in 1837 as the first hotel in London, the same
year Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. In the 180 years
since it has become regular home to royalty and writers, from
Pulitzer Prize and Oscar winners to musicians and scientists,
explorers and politicians alike. In celebration of 180 years of
Brown’s Hotel, the hotel is offering an unparalleled opportunity to
visit the property and bask in the intimate historical setting. Enjoy
two nights stay or more, with 20% off the room rate, breakfast
every day, a guaranteed upgrade and a complimentary Afternoon
Tea for Two in the English Tea Room. Savour a glass of
champagne, a cup of English tea, delicious sandwiches and
scones by some of the most experienced chefs, as you relax in
the warming atmosphere during your delicious afternoon tea. The
180th Anniversary package includes: two-night stay in a Deluxe
Room or above, guaranteed upgrade to the next available room
type, complimentary Afternoon Tea for two, daily Breakfast,
chauffeured Bentley Mulsanne (subject to availability and within
3-mile radius) and use of the hotel spa facilities (excluding
treatments). For more information call +44 20 7493 6020 or visit
Learn a new skill or sharpen your existing culinary knowledge with
a new season of weekend master classes at Armani/Ristorante led
by gourmet guru, Chef Alessandro Salvatico. This January is all
about what lies beneath with a seafood inspired oyster, clam and
salmon trio of dinner party worthy dishes. Priced at $165pp or
$275 per couple, and includes a three-course lunch with beverage
pairings, at Armani/Ristorante, Lobby Level, Burj Khalifa. The end
of the month sees the arrival of the venetian culinary carnival at
Armani/ Ristorante & Armani/Deli; a fixture of Venice’s annual
entertainment calendar since the 12th century. Enjoy the flavours of
Italy in the heart of Downtown Dubai this January & February with a
gastronomic festival that celebrates the region’s classic flavours.
Choose from a fourcourse menu at Armani/Ristorante featuring
stuffed squid served in a herby bisque and guinea fowl roulade
with chicken mousse and goose speck or head to the
monochrome chic setting of Armani/Deli for cod carpaccio, risotto,
Venetian style veal liver and the hotel’s signature sfera dessert. The
Venetian Carnival runs from January 27 to February 13 and is
available between 7pm – 11pm. Armani/Ristorante priced at
$125pp & Armani/Deli $95pp. For more information call +971 4
888 3666 or visit
Originally opened in 1962, The Ocean Club has long been a
favourite hideaway for luxury travellers, with its picture-perfect
oceanfront setting, immaculate grounds and stellar service. Over
the years and through several evolutions, as it earned numerous
international awards and accolades. In recent years, The Ocean
Club received global attention as the setting for key scenes in the
2006 remake of the James Bond classic Casino Royale. Now
managed by Four Seasons, The Ocean Club begins the next
chapter in its storied history. The resort offers timeless elegance,
luxurious accommodations in several low-rise buildings with sea
and garden views. The traditional island-style rooms and suites
open to ever-present sea breezes among the palm trees and
gentle sounds of ocean waves, while the three villas are each
serviced by a personal butler during your stay. Dining is highlighted
by Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s DUNE and
the adjacent DUNE Bar, serving French-Asian cuisine with a touch
of Caribbean spice, as well as OCEAN for freshly grilled island fare
and poolside Versailles Terrace. Although located in its own quiet
enclave, The Ocean Club is also just minutes from the dining,
shopping and other entertainments offered at Atlantis. You can
enjoy tennis and access to the Tom Weiskopf-designed Ocean
Club golf course. For younger guests, Kids for All Seasons offers
a fully supervised program of creative activities, and babysitting
can also be arranged if you want a quiet dinner or a few hours on
the golf course or in the Spa.
It’s been two decades since Tom Aikens shot to fame as the
youngest British chef to earn two Michelin stars
om Aikens begins our conversation at Pots Pans & Boards,
his relaxed, family-friendly restaurant at the top end of The
Beach on Dubai’s JBR, with a rather startling statement. “If I
had my time again, I’d carry on travelling and training until I was into
my early thirties, rather than becoming a head chef.”
Fair enough you might think, until you consider who is talking
here. Aikens is famed for being the youngest ever British chef to
be awarded two Michelin stars; he was just 26 and head chef at
London’s Pied à Terre restaurant when in 1996 the accolade was
bestowed upon him. Does that mean he’d be prepared to give
that experience up, I wonder – and the answer in short, is yes. “It
doesn’t mean I’m not incredibly proud of what we achieved, there’s
just so much to learn, to see and to eat; I wouldn’t want to miss out.
When I was a young chef France was the only country you really
travelled to in order to continue learning, but now there’s so much
“Aikens admits that he was consumed
by the pursuit of both Michelin stars
and perfection”
Back in those days Aikens had a reputation for being extremely
focused and intensely driven but also rather hot-headed and prone
to the occasional outburst too. He admits that he was consumed
by the pursuit of both Michelin stars and perfection (the two rather
go hand in hand) and says that now projects such as Pots Pans
& Boards and his successful chain of Tom’s Kitchen brasseries
provide a certain sense of relief from all that. “The casual concepts
do demand a more accessible approach and as a result the food
naturally becomes simpler and more relaxed,” he explains. “It is
nice to be able to think about more informal dishes and serve
classics like proper British fish and chips or a simple but really great
smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. That said, there is something
about being in a high-pressure kitchen, surrounded by the best
ingredients in the world and producing really high-quality food that
I just find satisfying. You have to be at the top of your game and
there’s no room for error.”
Thanks to the long hours demanded of chefs, particularly in the
era in which Aikens earned his stripes (or his stars, if you will), this
consumed his entire life. “We worked long days, sometimes 20
hours, with only a very short break and perhaps one day off a week.
When I was training you looked after yourself in order to first survive
and then succeed,” he says. Despite all this, Aikens says that a
different career path was never an option and that he knew from a
young age that the kitchen was where he was meant to be: “I have
always been incredibly competitive and driven; I’d be the first one to
arrive in the morning and the last one out at night. I was constantly
striving to improve, looking around to see whose job I could do
faster and better. It’s a good thing I’ve never needed a lot of sleep
to function,” he adds wryly.
For the outsider looking in, particularly from the working world that
many of us exist in today – one governed by company initiatives
and HR rules – this all sounds rather extreme. Thankfully Aikens
say that things have improved since he was a young commis chef
eager to make his mark: “Working hours are definitely more carefully
monitored now. There’s far greater emphasis placed on mentoring
young chefs these days: spotting talent and really nurturing it and
bringing people along, which is a good thing.”
Spurred on by the fact that he doesn’t consider himself to have
had a mentor, he really looks after the young chefs he thinks have
the potential to flourish. “Within five minutes of meeting a trainee I
can tell if they’ve got what it takes. You can see the people with
This spread, clockwise: Classic Ceasar salad; Seabass; Tom Aiken at
Pots, Pans & Boards; Interior views of Pots, Pans & Boards.
drive, with a desire to succeed: they arrive early, work hard, take
pride in what they do and are constantly pushing themselves,” he
states. His standards must be rather exacting, I venture and he
agrees: “If you show someone something, you want them to do it
that way every time and it’s amazing how many people just don’t get
that. It sounds basic, but it’s such a simple, important thing.”
While Aikens has enjoyed phenomenal career success, there
have also been some well-documented low points as well, which
makes you wonder what advice he gives to those he mentors.
“Besides telling them to put their heads down and work as hard as
they possibly can – which is obvious really – I tell them they need a
game plan,” he explains. “There’s no point just grafting relentlessly
for years without knowing what you want to get out of it. Figure out
the end goal – whether that’s being a head chef, having a string of
restaurants, whatever – and then work out the steps you need to
take and the things you need to do to get there. Time goes so fast
and you’re not young forever, you need a plan.”
Even just chatting to him for a relatively short time it’s clear that
although he may well have mellowed over the years, Tom Aikens’
life is still exhausting. His eyes dart about, his leg taps, his fizzes with
energy: this is not a man who switches off easily. When asked about
relaxation, downtime and work-life balance he laughs as he answers.
“I’ve always said that I don’t really know how to relax, but as time goes
on I think I’m getting a bit better at it. I do still find it really hard to switch
off, even when I’m on holiday. I can’t just lie on the beach and do
nothing. Nowadays it’s not just being in the kitchen, it’s managing all
“Although he may well have
mellowed over the years, Tom Aikens’
life is still exhausting”
This page: Tom Aikens; Truffle chips & Steak tartare.
the other projects I’m involved in too. My mind is constantly buzzing,
but I don’t think that’s ever going to change.”
The difference these days though is that he recognises that for
his own health and sanity sometimes he needs to force himself to
zone out or walk away, both literally and metaphorically. “One thing
I’ve learnt is that I have to exercise. Wherever I am in the world, I
make sure I spend an hour training everyday without fail. I go to the
gym if I can, but if that’s not possible I’ll run or something like that –
it’s very important for me not just physically but mentally too.”
Aikens has two young daughters who help – or indeed coerce –
him into relaxing from time to time too. When he’s not at work they
can all often be found in the family kitchen baking up a storm (no
finicky food here though, cocoa powder and cake sprinkles are the
order of the day). It’s perhaps not surprising that they’ve shown a
natural aptitude for cooking, which makes me wonder how he’d
react if one of them wanted to become a chef. “I’d support them
completely. Obviously the kitchen is an extremely tough place to
be, particularly for women, which isn’t right but that is changing,” he
replies passionately. “I’d be very proud and I’d do everything I could
to support them. A career as a chef can offer a lot: you can be both
creative and practical, you’re able to travel and develop your skill
set and because of that there are a vast number of opportunities
open to you.”
Unsurprisingly Aikens is full of plans for the future and his schedule,
both immediate and for the next year or so is tightly packed. A
much-anticipated collaboration with his twin brother Robert who is
also a chef is very much on the cards and is likely to happen in the
US. Back in the UK, Aikens says that there’s the distinct possibility
of a return to real high-end cooking in a fine dining set up, which
given that he’s been away from that particular scene for a few years,
he’s very excited about – and so should we be.
Words: Sarah Price
“A career as a chef can offer a lot: you can be both creative and practical, you’re able
to travel and develop your skill set and because of that there are a vast number of
opportunities open to you.”
You have truly made your voice heard this year with almost two million votes cast
across the Gulf for this year’s GCC Food and Travel Awards - now discover who
has made the finals!
ast month we announced the finalists for 2018 GCC
Food & Travel Awards
Over the last few months almost two million of you
inundated us with votes for your favourite hotels, restaurants,
chefs, and airlines in the GCC Food and Travel Awards and
you have truly made you voices heard.
See if your favourite hotel or restaurant has made the finals
to be judged by the expert panel.
The winners will announced at the Awards Gala Ceremony
in March 2018.
A big thanks to you all for your votes and valuable feedback
to discover who has
made the finals in
each category
h January. A month synonymous
with abstinence, thrift and the
reigning in of both appetites and
budgets after the indulgence of the festive
season. This is a time for healthy eating, for
turning over a new leaf (while simultaneously
consuming plenty of salad leaves) and yet
who wants to start the new year in
parsimonious fashion? Instead why not kick
off 2018’s eating as you mean to go on:
with delicious, wholesome food that tastes
fantastic and does you good too.
If that appeals – and why wouldn’t it – let
us introduce you to one of our hero
ingredients of the month: the Napa cabbage
or Chinese cabbage as it’s sometimes
known. Light, crisp and clean tasting, this
particular vegetable (a member of the
brassica family) is something of a
heavyweight in the nutrition department and
is high in fibre, folic acid and vitamins C, K
and B, as low in calories. Perfect January
fodder indeed.
To avoid disappointment when selecting
your cabbage look out for those that feel on
the heavy side for their size and have thick,
bright white ribs and healthy-looking green
blades – tired, limp leaves do not a tasty
cabbage make.
From salads to slaws, barbecued dishes
to slow braises, there’s a whole lot you can
do with this leafy vegetable. Top of that list
though should be putting it to good use and
making punchy, pungent kimchi. This
fermented cabbage concoction is the
condiment on everyone’s lips, not least
because gut or digestive health is big news
at the moment and fermented food is being
touted key to helping with all that.
Now before we go any further, let’s make
one thing clear: we’re not claiming the
kimchi recipe that follows is entirely
authentic, nor does it go all the way down
the lacto-fermented route. Real kimchi, the
funky stuff that bubbles slightly when you
open the jar is days, sometimes even
weeks, in the making. This version is quick
to prepare, full of crunch and it has a
pleasing fire to it that’s just the right side of
eye watering. Serve it as a side dish, use it
to take a toasted cheese sandwich to the
next level, employ as a marinade for meat
or fish or fold a tablespoon or two through
stir-fried rice.
he debate is still ongoing as to
whether Goldilocks would approve,
but there’s no denying it: savoury
porridge is officially a thing. If the thought of
drizzling anything but honey or syrup over
your morning bowl of oats is cause for
consternation, do give the idea a whirl
before retreating to the safety offered by
Real Scottish traditionalists will of course
maintain that porridge should be made from
just oats, water and salt, giving it a savoury
(and rather austere) edge by default. Let’s
be honest though, that’s not the kind of
breakfast to ease the pain of getting up
early. This new ilk of savoury porridges,
though? Well they might just do that and
Once you realise that the cooked oats
are simply a healthy, thrifty, filling base just
begging to be customised with all manner
of toppings, this is an easy idea to get on
board with. As well as our recipe for jammy
eggs and Asian greens, try sautéed
mushrooms, wilted spinach and a dusting
of parmesan, honeyed pears with
gorgonzola or roasted aubergine with tahini
dressing and a spoonful of yogurt.
The great thing about all this is that if you
begin your day with a bowl of porridge you
really have started it the right way for your
body. Oats are a good source of
magnesium, which is known to help with
heart health, and evidence also suggests
that consuming magnesium-rich food
reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes. The
soluble fibre in oats gives digestive systems
a much-needed boost, can lower
cholesterol levels and also slows the
absorption of carbohydrates into the blood
stream thus preventing spikes in blood
sugar levels. Not only that, they’re high in
protein, contain zinc, potassium and iron
and will keep you feeling full for far longer
than sugary cereal will.
Whether sweet or savoury, the texture of
your porridge is of the utmost importance:
you want the end result to be creamy and
rich rather than tacky or gluey and the oats
should retain a little bite. Success lies in
achieving the correct ratio of liquid to oats
and stirring the mixture frequently as it cooks.
Of course, oats have culinary uses far
beyond porridge. Use them to coat meat or
fish instead of breadcrumbs, add a handful
to a smoothie for bulk, sprinkle them over
gratins or crumbles before baking, make
your own granola bars or try our really rather
moreish nut and seed-packed homemade
rosemary oat cakes.
This spread, left to right: Labriz aerial view
Silouhette Island Coast; Labriz Beachfront
villa; Labriz Private Pool
The Seychelles; palm-fringed white beaches, balmy waters, lush green
islands and the warm embrace of a golden sun!
We arrived at Mahé airport, and despite the long flight we were
given a tonic by the big-hearted hospitality and genuinely friendly
welcome from our driver, who smoothly whisked us through a
twenty minutes journey along a zigzag of narrow country roads to
the Bel Ombre Jetty, where we were greeted by the reception team
from Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, ready for our short
45-minute voyage to Silhouette Island which is located just 20 km
northwest of Mahé.
We knew that we had arrived at our own little piece of paradise;
Hilton Seychelles Labriz, a picturesque resort carved out of the lush
tropical mountains that reaches down to the balmy clear waters of
the Indian Ocean, that sparkle with hints of azure and aquamarine,
gently lapping against the powdery white sand of the picture-perfect
postcard beach. The resort is perched in front of a shallow lagoon
enjoying amazing views towards North Island and Mahé. Most of
the island is a national park, offering unspoilt walking trails, and the
waters surrounding Silhouette are a marine reserve.
The stunning villas have a distinct character. The spacious rooms,
with their spectacular ocean views, are tastefully furnished, deep
soft sofas set by the large picture window, the bathrooms have
a separate bathtub, walk-in shower and open up onto a private
garden, complete with private outdoor rain-showers, and of course
king-size comfortable beds, all complemented by the light hues
from a palette of natural colours offering a light airy atmosphere.
Each villa is equipped with every modern convenience including
Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs and DVD players.
The Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort truly offers a glimpse of a
“Your own little piece of paradise; Hilton
Seychelles Labriz, a picturesque resort
carved out of the lush tropical mountains”.
“The resort boasts seven restaurants, including a pizzeria and Grann Kaz,
which is set in an old plantation house”
peaceful life that warmly envelops you in an almost hypnotic sense of
well-being, only to find that you have basked most of the day away;
lying lazily by the beach, reading a book, swimming in the ocean, or
just sipping on a cool drink while soaking up the sun. There is plenty
to choose from for those feeling more energetic; take a hike through
the rainforest or set out on a kayaking or diving adventure.
The expansive public areas feature acres of polished marble and
tropical hardwood decking, water features and a natural freshwater
lagoon crossed by an arched pedestrian bridge. The staff are warm
and willing to help, but the service is not especially dynamic; hotel
facilities include a well-equipped gym, a PADI five-star diving centre
as well as tennis courts, a large pool, and spa that offers a wide
range of treatments and massages.
We decided to go snorkelling, and once the safety procedures
were covered Once we were given the green light and our
underwater adventure began. The waters were teeming with life;
green sea and hawksbill turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, white tip sharks,
and variety of tropical fish, including - Butterflyfish, Queen Angelfish,
Hump-head Parrotfish, Regal Tang, Clownfish, Zebrafish, and
Napoleon Wrasses to name but a few
After the exertions of snorkelling we opted to try the Creole
cooking class and lunch. To start we made - mango and smoked
Marlin salad which was an explosion of flavours; we were quite
surprised to see so many unusual ingredients working so well
together. The fish was delectable, so much so that we’ll be trying
this dish at home! For the mains, we made Octopus curry; a native
Seychelles’ dish, and I would highly recommend this to anyone
looking to try something different. For dessert we made Banana
Ladob, which was sweet, thick, creamy and rich in flavour. All the
ingredients complemented each other perfectly, particularly the
cocoa nut milk - really yummy!
The resort boasts seven restaurants, including a pizzeria and
Grann Kaz, which is set in an old plantation house, Japanese at
the Teppanyaki as well as Italian fine dining at Portobello restaurant.
Breakfast is served at Café Dauban, offering a lavish selection of
international dishes from dim sum and noodles to cereals and fresh
Grann Kaz is set in a historic plantation house located within its
own private enclave in Village La Passe, just a short stroll away.
Once home to the Dauban family, the former owners of the island,
the building has been restored with an homage to the island’s rich
English and French heritage, and to reflect modern Seychellois
chic, creating an intimate restaurant
Enjoy modern Italian cuisine amidst the contemporary elegant
chic décor at Portobello as you enjoy stunning views of Mount
Dauban. Dine in air conditioned comfort, or eat al fresco on the
terrace beside the tranquil lake.
Our meal offered mixed-blessings, but on the whole was an
enjoyable experience; the starter of Carpaccio di Manzo - beef
carpaccio, aged Parmesan and white truffle oil was disappointing,
the meat lacked flavour and texture, and was cut too thick; whilst
the Prosciutto, Caprino e Pesca - Parma ham, goat’s cheese and
roast peach salad, was OK, although the goat’s cheese caprine
was golden with the right amount of crispy crumb on the outside
was totally devoid of any goats cheese on the inside. To follow we
had Costolette di Agnello - grilled lamb chops, aubergine caponata,
rosemary potatoes. The meat was served, as requested, medium
with just right amount of pink in the centre, unfortunately the rosemary
potatoes hard and the vegetables were swimming in oil. Conversely
the Spaghetti Bolognese, ordered off-menu; the fresh cooked beef
ragout and golden spaghetti was a delight. To complete our meal,
we both decided to try the Tiramisu Quasi Classico – a traditional
tiramisu, with vanilla ice cream, which was lovely and creamy with a
slight crunchiness and a coating of powdered chocolate. A definite
must have!
Opposite page, left to right: Olive’s scallop; Todd in the kitchen;
Bellagio restaurant Olive’s bar
Having sampled the delights of Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort
we changed location to the peaceful couples retreat of The Hilton
Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa which is located on the west
coast of Mahé, and overlooks Beau Vallon Bay. The hotel is a
quiet, secluded couples retreat, and the beach has the feel of a
hidden desert island cove, set in a lush tropical paradise. The al
fresco restaurants and lobby have high wooden ceilings in the
classic Seychellois style. The palette of brown hues and marble
are highlighted with turquoise accents lending an airy feel that lends
itself to a relaxing stay far from the urban bustle of city life. This
romantic atmosphere tends to draw couples, and children under
12 are not allowed.
The Hilton Seychelles Northolme consists of large, private villas,
which all enjoy sea views and have private decks. The Beach
Villas are closer to reception and the resort’s restaurants, whilst the
Hillside Villas are quieter and more secluded; but whatever you pick,
you won’t go wrong. The décor is contemporary chic with swathes
of natural woods, cane and four-poster canopy beds, draped with
white curtains for that romantic touch. The walls are adorned with
vibrant art, the balconies are spacious, and the amenities plentiful,
from flat-screen TVs and DVD players to espresso makers and
mini-bars. The natural bathrooms have free-standing tubs and open
showers and fabulous ocean views.
Nestling beside a strip of white-sand the hotel’s freeform infinity
pool appears to flow into the Indian Ocean; and there are ample sun
beds and beach umbrellas for poolside lounging. If you are looking
for something a little less busy there’s also a free shuttle to nearby
Beau Vallon Beach. On-site activities include free kayaking and
snorkelling, a 24-hour fitness centre loaded with state-of-the-art
cardio and weight equipment, with a private sun terrace for a postworkout break. Try the yoga pavilion or on-site. Duniye Spa which
offers spa and beauty treatments, including Balinese, Thai, and
Swedish massage along with Reiki energy work. And the hotel’s gift
shop sells clothing, handicrafts, souvenirs, and the usual holiday
necessities such as sunscreen.
There are three restaurants at the resort, Les Cocotiers is a finedining restaurant serving Creole cuisine. The Hilltop Restaurant
serves buffet-style meals, and The Ocean-view Bar and Restaurant
serves snacks, signature cocktails, and fresh fruit juices and often
features live music performances. with 24-hour room service for
those who would rather dine in their villas.
The Hilltop Restaurant enjoy stunning panoramic views. Relax
in the casual, dining room and savour the delights of local and
international buffet menus for breakfast and dinner. Watch the
expert chefs prepare your meal at the live cooking stations and
don’t miss the exciting Creole evening on Mondays with authentic
Creole food and local entertainment. Les Cocotiers Restaurant
offers fine dining under the stars. Eat al fresco restaurant and
enjoy spectacular ocean views as you choose from the à la carte
menu that features a range of Creole-international fusion dishes.
And unwind in the stylish interiors of the Ocean View Bar or on the
decked balcony for views of ocean coves and starlit nights. Sip on
the finest international cocktails and freshly squeezed juices, as the
strains of live music make for the perfect accompaniment to any
We dined at Les Cocotiers, to start I had the Coconut Crusted
Shrimp with passion fruit and chilli, the dish was elegantly plated and
the portion size was just right; the coconut crust providing the perfect
foil to each mouthful of moist shrimp with every bite. The vegetables
garnish was just the correct amount of sweet and coated ever so
This page: Northolme Hilltop restaurant;
Little Ben; Hindu Temple in Mahé.
Mahé Day Trip
pleasingly with a light dressing, the perfect appetizer! For our mains,
we ordered - rib eye and fillet. The Rib eye was served on a slab of
slate, which whilst looking attractive, just isn’t how fine food should
be served. The portion sizes were generous, although upon reflection
there was far too much fat left on the steak. The meat was juicy,
flavourful and perfectly cooked. The peppercorn sauce seasoned
this dish beautifully, but was a little on the watery side. Pleasingly
the sides of baked potato wedges and crispy onion rings were just
right. The fillet was lean, tender, it was just a shame there wasn’t
more of it. The steak was cooked as requested, and the peppercorn
sauce gave it the little kick it needed. To top of the meal we ordered
Island mess local tropical fruit mini meringues vanilla cream rum
and chocolate sauce and Pineapple, tartan vanilla ice cream. Both
desserts were pleasant but just too much, even for my sweet tooth.
“The flavour of the snapper was
delightful, and the meat flaked
effortlessly from the bone ”
Having caught the bug earlier in the week we decided to take the
Cooking Class At Hilltop. For our starters we had - Tuna tartare, Pan
Seared Scallop and Salmon Roe. The presentation of this dish was
sublime, it was minimal, elegant, and pleasing to the eye. The fresh
tuna steak, seared for a minute each side, the buttered seasoned
scallops bounced off the other ingredients on the plate well and the
Salmon Roe had a subtle, mild flavour, both plates were cleared
and our mains then brought over. For our mains we tried – slow
cooked snapper, buttered vegetables, green mussels, crusted
potato served with confit pumpkin puree and café au lait. The Red
Snapper was sweet and had a lean, firm moist texture, served over
golden-crusted potatoes, and mussels. The flavours of the snapper
were delightful, and the meat flaked effortlessly from the fish. The
crunch of the potatoes balanced the flavour and texture beautifully.
The mussels were soft, and added a touch of salt, and the pumpkin
puree was thick and creamy. Dessert was a mouth-watering fruit
platter that consisted of; passion fruit, pineapple, kiwi, melon,
orange, banana, strawberry, pomegranate, and star fruit.
If you have the time (or inclination) it’s worth taking a visit
around Mahé. We took a tour a spacious, comfortable airconditioned car. Visit the Mission Lodge Heritage site, to
see the foundations of Venn’s town ruins that had mostly
been covered due to dense forest vegetation. Go to the
viewing platform, where you can read about the historical
events, and admire the numerous valleys and coastline.
See the Seychelles Little Ben clock tower monument,
situated in the centre of a busy, small roundabout in Victoria,
and then on to on to St Paul’s cathedral where you can
admire the beautiful stain glass windows and architecture
of the Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar (Hindu) Temple,
which is quite deceptive, looking small from the outside
yet spacious inside. The Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market
offers as a wide variety of arts and crafts, fish, fruits, flowers,
spices, and clothes. Tucked away at the end of the high
street away from all the hustle and bustle is the News Café;
worth a stop for a short break, to escape the hot and humid
market. Try coconut and vanilla ice cream accompanied by
two bottles of Seybrew (the local hops). The coconut ice
cream is refreshing, milky and the small chunks of coconut
are heavenly. The botanical garden is a must for nature
enthusiasts and offers a 30-minute tour around the exotic
and unique flora of Mahé.
There is no sincerer love than the love of food
hen Nick Alvis and Scott Price came up with the
concept for the food at Folly by Nick & Scott, the
award-winning restaurant that they run in Madinat
Jumeirah, they did so with a view to doing something a bit
different. Moving away from the now ubiquitous sharing plates
concept they instead created a menu made up of small plates
(starters are smaller than average, as are mains and the prices
reflect this) which essentially frees you from the rigors of a
traditional three course meal and encourages diners to put
together their own tasting menu.
As you can imagine, an almost complete revamp of the entire
menu like the one they implemented at the tail end of 2017,
is months in the making. Following the initial conception of a
dish, which might come from a few notes jotted on a piece of
paper or a hastily drawn sketch, followed by weeks of recipe
testing, tweaking and development. The different elements are
reworked, ingredients experimented with and changes made
until both chefs are happy that the dish deserves a place on
the Folly menu.
Here Nick and Scott have given Food and Travel readers
exclusive access to the recipes for some of those new dishes
and also shared their favourite meals when cooking at home.
Job’s tears might just be the next big thing in the culinary world. This
naturally gluten-free grain has a chewy, vaguely sweet, earthy taste
and can also be added to soups and broths, served in salads or
offered in place of rice or cous cous.
Remove the piping bag with the goats’ cheese from the fridge 30
minutes before serving. This allows the flavour to really develop
and means that it can easily be piped onto the plate as well.
NICK: This recipe is deliberately a vegan one. We always try to have
one or two completely vegan dishes on our menus, as well as a few
others that can be made vegan if necessary – that way we know
we’re still offering guests with dietary requirements plenty of choice.
I really wanted to use Marmite here as it provides a huge flavour
hit in the same way that a concentrated meat reduction does. The
jasmine rice mousse brings lightness to the dish, the courgettes
provide a clean burst of flavour and the crispy job’s tears add an
integral chewy-crunchy texture.
SCOTT: This is a really good example of the way we put our
dishes together so that the textures and flavours complement
each other on the plate: smooth, rich goats’ cheese, tangy-sharp
tamarind and then the crispy coriander-infused crouton that’s
almost like a piece of fried bread.
The quantities for the tamarind chutney will yield more than you
need, but that’s a good thing; it will keep in the fridge in a sealed
jar or container for a couple of weeks and tastes fantastic with a
piece of aged cheddar.
NICK: This recipe is of course based on a classic steak
tartare, we simply use roe deer shoulder to make it a little bit
different. The dish features all the traditional tartare elements
– egg yolk, cornichons, Worcestershire sauce, shallots – but
these are given a bit of a twist and prepared using modern
It’s well worth making extra of the cornichons – they’re great
added to a cheeseboard and keep for several weeks in a
sealed jar too. If you can’t get hold of roe deer a lean, tender
cut such as veal sirloin or beef tenderloin will work well too.
NICK: I’ve always loved snails and whenever I eat in a French brasserie
I order them. For me the best bit is dipping the crusty baguette into the
pool of garlic butter at the end, so I wanted to try and recreate that with
this dish in a slightly more unorthodox way, which is where the idea for
the snail doughnuts came from.
This recipe is a time-consuming one so I’d recommend breaking
down the process over three or four days. Start by making the brioche
dough, then cook the snails in the emulsion and finally wrap them. It
sounds like a lot of effort, but when you bite into a piping hot mini
doughnut filled with garlicky butter it will be worth it.
NICK: We wanted to put a gingerbread dish on the menu
for ages, but couldn’t quite agree on what to do. After much
experimentation, this is the result and we really pleased with it.
The crispy wafers have all the classic spicy-sweet flavour that
you associate with gingerbread, the parfait is rich and creamy
without being overwhelming and the infused sorbet balances
both element and provides a nice cleanness.
If you want you could make this dessert simpler by serving the
gingerbread parfait topped with crumbled ginger biscuits.
Scoop the sorbet well ahead of serving it and refreeze it on a
baking tray. That way you don’t have to worry about it melting
as you plate the dish up.
SCOTT: This is a really clean, simple dessert that’s indulgent
without being overwhelming and also acts as a bit of a palette
cleanser thank to the green apple sorbet. If you prefer, rather
than cutting the cheesecake into individual slices you could
bring it to the table whole and portion it up from there.
We like to make our own digestive biscuits, but to save time
you could always buy them readymade and skip straight to step
three in this recipe.
SCOTT: I’m a big fan of quinoa; it’s filling, healthy, versatile and absorbs
other flavours nicely too. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t cook a huge
amount at home, but I do often make a big batch of quinoa on my day
off so that it’s ready and waiting in the fridge for the nights when I get
home from work feeling ravenous. I like serving the grain with crispy
chickpeas, halloumi and grilled chicken, but this recipe is probably my
favourite and the one I make the most often. The creamy feta, tangy
dressing and brightness from the pomegranate seeds works well
together and the charred spring onions make a great final addition.
NICK: Several members of my family were born in India, so I
grew up eating Indian food and this is my go-to chicken curry
recipe. I started cooking it when I was a young chef working
in Versailles, just outside of Paris. As you can imagine, I didn’t
have much money at the time (I was being paid very little and
our rent was high), and this was a cost-effective, filling meal
that reminded me of home. Chicken legs are often neglected in
favour of the more expensive breast meat, but legs have a much
better flavour and cooking them on the bone means the meat
stays really moist too.
This page, clockwise: Aerial
view of Four Seasons Hotel
Bahrain; A suite at the Four
Seasons; The staircase at
CUT; Richard Raab.
Swedish born Richard Raab, initially wanted to become the captain of an
ocean liner, fortunately for us the loss to the Cruise Ship industry was a big win
for us land-lubbers.
t is clear to anyone who speaks with Richard Raab that he exudes
pride in his work, his personal ethos of excellence is reflected in
his every action. After almost two decades with Four Seasons,
one of the finest hotel chains in the world today, Raab is now GM of
the iconic Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay.
Having gained valuable experience over the years, across the
Four Seasons chain, from St Petersburg and Dubai to Beverley
Hills and Nevis, his depth of knowledge and skill sets have been
finely honed, making Raab the ideal person to lead the team at this
unique urban resort.
Before settling on becoming a hotelier Raab hankered after a
career on the high seas? “I used to spend my summers visiting
my grandparents in Geiranger, a picturesque village in the west
of Norway, which attracted many cruise ships and I worked as a
tour guide to the passengers.” he stated. “Who wouldn’t want the
chance to captain a cruise ship; a crisp uniform, greeting guests
and hosting the captain’s table? I realised a cruise ship was really a
floating hotel and that’s what I wanted to do.” he added.
We asked what kept Raab with the company for almost 20 years?
“I think that the underlying company ethos that brought me to Four
Seasons, is one of the main aspects that is still as important today.”
he started. “Treat everybody the way you would want to be treated
yourself! This echoed with me – so I went to London and applied for a
job and started as a waiter” Which led to Raab eventually joining Four
Seasons in 1998 as the Assistant Restaurant Manager and Banquet
Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills; the
result being the journey that has brought him to Bahrain today.
“As a company, we encourage our people to excel, and I find
mentoring people to reach their dreams extremely rewarding; I was
mentored during my career and I know how valuable it can be.”
offered Raab. “After all we work in a service culture – and I encourage
staff to interact with our guests and show their own character, and
more importantly to be proud of, and showcase their own crafts
and skills. Whether they be a barman creating exceptional cocktails,
a spa therapist providing soothing treatments or a chef cooking
extraordinary culinary dishes.” he concluded.
Raab firmly believes the essence of excellent customer service to
be “Emotional Intelligence” the need to be able to read the guest and
anticipate their needs. Something that is different with each guest
and can even be different for same guest on different occasions.
For example, the same guest may be visiting on a business trip,
with its particular set of requirements and next time they may be
over for a family weekend, and as such have an entirely different
set of priorities.
When asked what he felt personified his unique approach to the
industry? Raab commented “At the end of the day being a hotelier
is a challenging job. But we are all responsible for our own day,
from the moment we wake up each morning; and sometimes things
don’t go as planned. Therefor it is important to learn from setbacks
and grow from them!” he added.
This page, clockwise: Four Seasons Lobby lounge; CUT
dining room; Bahrain Bay Kitchen Chef; Richard Raab,
General Manager; CUT staircase.
Moving on to the changes brought about by the world of
technology, Raab points out that although it is clearly playing
a bigger and growing role within the industry, Four Seasons will
always be a people business; but a business that recognises its
benefits. Four Seasons is now enlisting technology as a valuable
tool to enhance the guest experience, by launching a new chat
function for its Global App. “The Four Seasons Chat is a new digital
service that lets guests send and receive instant messages with the
hotel team before, during and after their stay, using technology to
get more personal, delivering our legendary Four Seasons service at
their fingertips at any time, from anywhere.Technological innovation
delivered with a distinctly human touch.” says Raab. “One of the
best features is that it is a multi-lingual tool. So, a guest can order a
service or make a booking in Arabic, and the message is translated
into the preferred language of the receiving party, who can then
reply, for example in English, and the guest receives his response
in Arabic.” Clearly a great boon to customer care in this hi-tech age,
where almost everyone seems to live their life via their smart phone.
Raab is clearly a fan of Bahrain, a kingdom steeped in history, rich
in culture and a passion for food. “I love Bahrain, it is open and the
people are very friendly and approachable.” He says adding “Bahrain
has a vibrant local culinary scene with a string of international brands
located at hotels such as the Four Seasons or stand-alone.”
The local market is important to Raab. “I love to visit local
restaurants, and try new things. There are home-grown and
international treasures to be found; a traditional Bahraini Breakfast
Images: Four Seasons
at Saffron, the hidden gem that is Villa Mama’s and the wonderfully
authentic Mexican cuisine at Cantina Kahlo.”
The knowledge garnered from his forays around the island are
soon found inspiring new initiatives at the Four Seasons, such
as an evening at re Asian with guest chef, and Bahrain stalwart,
Michael Sang-Kyu Lee, the Executive Chef and driving force behind
Bahrain’s Meisei and Brian Becher, Executive Chef of re Asian
Cuisine and CUT by Wolfgang Puck.
On discussing the trends and expectations for 2018 at the Four
Seasons Bahrain Bay, Raab is enthusiastic. “The CUT Bar and
Lounge has now firmly established itself as a popular venue; it is no
longer a bar you visit pre-dinner at CUT but a destination in its own
right – we have a fabulous new menu for the Blue Moon Lounge,
and our unpolished diamond, our Shisha Lounge where you can
relax beside the infinity pool and see the wonderful Bahrain skyline.”
Other initiatives include a Water Taxi service across the bay to the
new waterfront shopping experience at the Avenues; a steal at only
one dinar; offering easy access to the mall for hotel guests and hasslefree access to the hotel’s fabulous facilities to Avenue shoppers too.
Raab relishes the challenges of running a hotel in Bahrain. “The
Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay is a unique and iconic building,
the architecture and interior design are exceptional, the product is
second to none and this hotel would be at home in London’s Park
Lane, the Champs-Élysées in Paris or New York City’s 5th Avenue.
- I am extremely proud of the hotel and my team!” he concluded.
Sophie Ibbotson discovers an exclusive safari lodge, in Zambia’s remote
Liuwa Plains National Park.
ourneying to the King Lewanika Lodge is not for the
faint-hearted. A light aircraft drops you on the airstrip at
Kalabo on the edge of the Liuwa Plains, but there’s as
yet no bridge to get across the river into the national park.
We drove with painstaking care onto the metal pontoon, our
Land Cruiser taking up the bulk of the space on-board. A few
colourfully attired ladies, their equally bright umbrellas up to
protect them from the rain, squatted alongside as our driver
and the ferryman pulled hand over hand on the metal cable.
We inched our way across and disembarked onto the sandy
track which serves as a road in the dry season. When it rains
and the track disappears beneath the water, the only way to
reach the lodge is by helicopter.
At this point there is still a two-hour drive through the park
to go, but as the Land Cruiser bumps and bounces along the
track there’s plenty to see on the way. First and foremost are
the villages. The Liuwa Plains is one of the oldest protected
areas in Africa — a royal hunting ground since the 1880s —
“The villages thin out and the
plains stretch as far as the eye
can see, with scarcely a solitary
tree to disturb the horizon”
and the king still designates specific areas for each family
to use. Children ran out to greet us on the road, waving
enthusiastically. Tourists are, it seems, still quite a novelty here.
But then the villages thin out and the plains stretch as far
as the eye can see, with scarcely a thicket or solitary tree
to disturb the horizon. You won’t spot the King Lewanika
Lodge until you’re almost on top of it: architects Silvio Rech
and Lesley Carstens’ magnificent creation is low rise, built
predominantly of natural materials, and the swathe of golden
thatch covering the roof is exactly the same colour as the
surrounding grasslands. We looped around and approached
the lodge from the rear, looking out for a lion lurking in the
shadows of the trees.
A reception committee awaited us, welcome drinks in hand, but
as we drove in there was a message on the radio: two cheetahs
had been spotted nearby. It was a split-second decision to skip
the formalities and tour of our rooms, but the chance of a cheetah
sighting is not something you’d want to miss.
The sun was now sinking, turning the sky a glorious pink.
Eagle-eyed guide Innocent scanned the dusky horizon for any
rapid movement of zebra or wildebeest which might suggest there
was a cheetah in hot pursuit. But in fact all was remarkably peaceful,
and what he ultimately spied was a single head in silhouette, poking
up above the grass. We had long left the sand track behind, but
the vehicle was comfortable enough off road and at this speed the
engine noise was little more than a loud cat’s purr. We came closer,
and closer still. The cheetah, though aware of our presence, was
completely unconcerned, focusing instead into the distance in case
a hare or other small animal was unlucky enough to pass by. We
stepped down from the Land Cruiser and Innocent laid out a table
of drinks and snacks. In the half-light we drank a toast, excitable as
children at what we had just been privileged enough to see.
It was not until the following morning that I fully explored the lodge.
Its arching frame is like the ribcage of a whale or other giant beast,
but as the areas between the beams and struts are completely
open, you hardly realise they are there. No glass obscures your
views of the plains, and the breeze which blows through is most
welcome, especially in the mid-day heat.
The Time +Tide lodge is open plan, and the restaurant area
This spread, clockwise: A lion pride in Liuwa Plains National Park;
Zebra on the plains; Time + Tide King Lewanika; Cheetah at sunset;
Hyena in the grass; Dinner at Time + Tide King Lewanika; Lounge
area of the King Lewanika suites.
“You get a front row seat as vast
numbers of wildebeest and zebra
come here to calf.”
segues naturally into the bar and thence to the lounge and wide
wooden deck. It is half tempting to sit and read the scattering of
magazines and coffee table books, but then you glance up and
remember where you are: the plains are just too enticing. I sat, or
rather dangled, in a hammock seat strung from the beams, my legs
swaying gently. I was transfixed by the swishing of the grasses, and
the wildebeest with their young wandering by.
Each morning starts with a coffee at first light, then a drive out into
the park. Staying here, you get a front row seat on Africa’s second
largest wildlife migration, as vast numbers of wildebeest and zebra
come here to calf. The size of the herds is impressive, for sure,
but it is the carnivores which are the real draw. Following in the
wildebeests’ wake are not only the cheetah, but clans of hyena up
to 95 strong, and plenty of lions, too.
I saw five lions in a single morning: a dominant male, a female,
and their three cubs of differing ages. A decade ago there was just
one lion here, a lioness by the name of Lady Liuwa, but under the
management of African Parks the population is slowly recovering.
The Zambian Carnivore Programme has its research station
adjacent to the lodge, and they keep a close watch on the lions. We
sat in the Land Cruiser, eyes wide open in awe, as the lion lounged
in the sunshine, drank from the pans, and played. One of the older
cubs was teaching his little brother to hunt, stalking imaginary prey
through the grass. Zebras, sensibly, kept their distance, safe at
least for now.
Return to the lodge mid-morning, invariably heralds brunch, and
by this time the day is already becoming warm. We joined staff
and fellow guests at a long wooden dining table which would not
look out of place in a medieval hall. You can of course dine alone,
enjoying a romantic meal for two, but with such a small community
— the lodge accommodates a maximum of 15 guests — it is far
This page clockwise: The view from the lodge; Family villa; The rain
showers at King Lewanika
Get away from the noise and the bustle of everyday life
and find peace in the unspoilt wilderness surrounding
the King Lewanika Lodge. This stunningly designed
haven really does make the most of its natural location,
and the charming staff go to great lengths to ensure you
get the most extraordinary wildlife encounters. Safari
drives may be hot and dusty, but the lodge itself is a
calm, cool oasis, an unmatched retreat which will make
you fall in love with Africa’s landscapes, its wildlife, and
its sunsets time and time again.
A four-night stay with Africa Exclusive at the King
Lewanika Lodge, including return flights from Lusaka
to Kalabo, starts from $7,449 per person. For more
information visit or
+44 1604 628979
Images: Sophie Ibbotson; Norman Carr; Ben Tavener
more fun to trade stories of nearly-too-close wildlife encounters and
to share photography tips.
In spite of the distance from civilisation, every meal here is
a succulent feast. Grilled aubergine with honey sticks sweetly
on the tongue and contrasts starkly with the crunchiness of red
cabbage and the tang of citrus segments. The soft, warm bread is
always homemade, and one evening we were treated to an indoor
barbecue (the weather having turned somewhat stormy), drawing
a collective gasp, at the number and variety of dishes, each one
somehow more delicious than the last.
Now I haven’t yet told you about the rooms: I’ve been saving the
best until last. Technically I suppose they are tents, but that word
hardly does justice to the design. Each huge canvas-clad suite
stretches out atop an extensive wooden deck, the sides rolling up
to unveil the great outdoors. More than one afternoon I lay back on
the king size bed for an hour or more just staring at the natural world
before me.
A bathroom is typically an enclosed space, but not so at King
Lewanika. The two rain showers — one indoors, the other outside
— are divided by nothing more than a removable canvas wall.
The outdoor option is open to the sky but screened in such a way
that no one else can see you. Standing in the heat of the sun,
feeling its heat on your skin, whilst looking up into the trees or out
across the grasslands is nothing short of magical, and possible
only in a place such as this where other people are so few and
far between.
And that more than anything is the draw of this lodge: it’s an
incredibly exclusive affair. With so few guests at King Lewanika, and
no other lodge in the park, the focus is completely on you and what
you want to see and do. The lion and cheetah are unperturbed
by people and vehicles because they’re rare and cause them no
harm. You know when you approach a wildebeest herd, or draw up
beside a flock of birds, that they won’t take fright. No one else will
obstruct your view.
The exquisite space and casual atmosphere set the stage for a sophisticated
and luxurious experience
tart your day in style with a leisurely breakfast with Nomad
Urban Eatery, the All Day Casual Dining choice for all the right
reasons, delivering a chic dining experience. You will find this
culinary pearl at The Courtyard, located in Bahrain’s Al Seef District.
The restaurant pays meticulous attention to detail, displaying
flair and its own unique signature style; the exquisite space and
casual atmosphere set the stage for a sophisticated and luxurious
experience; but it isn’t just the fine food and décor that impresses
at Nomad, the enticing menu and attentive knowledgeable service
from the Nomad team, expertly led by Alberto Pardo, who brings
a wealth of experience from his time with Jamie Oliver and the late
Antonio Carluccio, and chef Steve McGowan whose experience
includes Murano with Gordon Ramsey & Angela Hartnett, and
Bibendum, which set it apart from the pack.
If you like to start your day with a healthy breakfast then try the
Peanut Butter Acai Bowl, a delightful mixture of fresh strawberries,
banana, almond milk, granola, peanut butter and cocoa nibs, or
perhaps spoil yourself with the rich flavours of White Chocolate and
Above: Vibrant interior; Below: Matcha Chai Coffee; Dining area; Shakshouka
This page, clockwise: Acai bowl; Main dining area; Eggs royale; Breakfast bao.
“The array of mouth-watering
dishes and cuisines is
provocatively tempting.”
Matcha French Toast, served with berries, whipped vanilla cream,
and blueberry syrup; an indulgent take on this breakfast classic that
simply oozes flavour, ensuring your taste buds are in for a rare treat.
The Truffle Bao, offers a light savoury alternative, two soft white
buns filled a fluffy scrambled egg, topped with wild mushrooms and
truffle; a simple yet delicious dish. If you are looking for something
altogether more substantial then the aptly named Eggs Royale is a
welcome treat. House-smoked salmon, wilted spinach, perfectly
cooked poached eggs, served on a lightly toasted English muffin,
covered with a generous helping of smooth and delightfully
unctuous hollandaise sauce. A new arrival on the Nomad breakfast
menu is a thin crispy breakfast pizza, this epicurean breakfast treat
is topped with tomato, crispy beef bacon and quail eggs.
For those looking for more local-style breakfast fare, then Middle
East staple Shakshouka is your ideal choice. This appealing sharing
dish, is served in a cast iron skillet, and consists of eggs nestled on
top of a delicious rich combination of tomato, and peppers, that is
lightly spiced, and served with two quenelles of lightly smoked labneh
and a generous side of toasted homemade rye sourdough bread.
Nomad certainly lives up to our expectations; The array of mouthwatering dishes and cuisines is provocatively tempting. Whether
you choose to dine for breakfast, a quick business lunch, a delicious
dinner, late-night fare or just coffee Nomad has something for every
taste. And if that isn’t enough look out for Nomad’s imaginative
loyalty program.
+973 1700 0330 @nomadeaterybh
I was so focused on winning Michelin stars; and it was fantastic when
I received them!
here is a general consensus among chefs that to excel inside
the kitchen you need a certain mentality. Coping with long
hours in a stressful and heated environment is not for the faint
hearted, nor is the near constant striving for perfection. Therefore,
you need to be a little bit crazy. And Sergio Herman, well, he is a
little crazier than most.
The famed Dutch chef shocked the culinary world back in 2013
when he decided to close the doors of his renowned restaurant Oud
Sluis. Having worked for decades to put it on the map, gained three
Michelin stars and a place on the San Pellegrino’s prestigious World
50 Best Restaurants list, Herman suddenly decided that a change
was needed. “No one could talk me out of it,” he exclaims. “I was
working for 25 years in Oud Sluis and I had reached everything. I
had the three stars and the recognition but it was a combination
of a small space and too many people. “I didn’t feel the growth
anymore and I knew that I needed more free time for myself in order
to discover the world. I didn’t see life outside of the kitchen. “I was
so focused on winning the stars and it was fantastic when I received
them. That is not part of my life anymore, I am free of it. Also, I don’t
have the ego anymore to want it again. I am happier now than I was
before because working for that long in that small kitchen brought
me nothing. “Yes, it brought me more as a chef and I was able to
grow and work to perfection, but it brought me nothing else in my
life. I missed a lot in those 25 years.”
Now Herman finds himself in Dubai preparing an eight-course
menu at At.mosphere, the restaurant located on the 122nd floor
of the Burj Khalifa. It is the type of project he can now undertake
thanks to the freedom that came with closing Oud Sluis. Yet the
47-year-old is far from content. He believes he moved too quickly
in opening The Jane, his contemporary restaurant in Antwerp.
This spread, left to right; Sergio Herman; The Jane restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium; Jane dessert; Sergio Herman.
Housed in a former chapel of a military hospital, it has already been
awarded two Michelin stars and delivers mind-blowing flavours
that are both simple and sophisticated. But Herman appears to
once again be ready for a major change. “I closed Oud Sluis and I
went immediately into The Jane, and I missed my family during that
period,” he says. “I went immediately 200 kilometres an hour into
the next project and that wasn’t good. “I have only realised now that
is wasn’t a good thing and that I should have just taken a breath and
had six months or a year where I could just wake up a little bit. “Now
I want to go back to a very small restaurant, something very special
hard and keep my two feet on the ground,” says Herman. “I think he
saw I had potential very quickly but he never told me to my face. He
was very strict, but at the same time he was great to work with and
we never fought in the kitchen. “My dad taught me all the basics
and he is definitely me mentor. But he had a hard life and I saw my
parents work extremely hard so I wasn’t always sure I would follow
in his footsteps. “But I had a moment of clarity when working at a
two Michelin star restaurant in Holland. They were very happy with
me and in that moment I realised I wanted to go for it.”
It is now close to 30 years since Herman chose to become a chef
“Housed in a former chapel of a military hospital, The Jane delivers
mind-blowing flavours that are both simple and sophisticated.”
where I cook a couple of days a week. I want to do a minimum of
covers with a small team. So something with spirit and 100 per cent
Sergio. “I have something in mind and I want to do something close
to nature and nearby where I live. You need to have a dream and
you need something new, always. Yes, I think I will go for it.”
Clearly Herman is extremely head strong, but the closure of Oud
Sluis still had a major effect on him. The restaurant had been almost
all he knew, having grown up in the kitchen while his dad worked as
head chef and his mother looked after the front of house. So many
of his memories are tied into his former restaurant and even today
he is driven by the words of his father. “He always told me to work
and still now he believes he has much to learn. While previously he
would travel and almost exclusively dine in the finest restaurants, now
he enjoys nothing more than sampling street food and discovering
locations rich with character. A recent trip to Mexico saw him fall
in love with food from street vendors and while in Dubai he has
vowed to discover ‘real Arabic food’. “For sure I have changed a lot
because if you are older you cook less for show and focus more on
the product and the taste,” he declares. “My focus was always on
fine dining but I am a little bit over that now. “Of course when I travel
I know a lot of chefs and I will always visit them, but only maybe one
time. The rest I go more for street food and find restaurants with a
“I always say that I am extremely
lucky that I didn’t have the
signature of another chef. I always
cook my own style”
nice vibe. “I do think classic food will always be a winner but you
have to refresh it a little bit and give it a special touch. It’s now less
important to show off and instead focus on producing something
that is pure and very special.”
Fortunately, throughout his career Herman has been able to
produce dishes that are unique and original. Despite training in
restaurants across the Netherlands and working so closely with his
father, he has been able carve out his own niche. It is something
that Herman is extremely proud of, but at the same time he worries
that those entering the culinary business will struggle to fully
understand the importance of being unique. “I always say that I
am extremely lucky that I didn’t have the signature of another chef.
I was always cooking my own style,” says Herman. “In those days
you didn’t have television programmes with food or social media.
You had books and you went to restaurants, that was it. “I had to
search things out and learn from my experiences. And I was lucky
that my parents would take me to the top restaurants in France and
Belgium so food was always in my DNA.
“But the most important thing for a chef is to do their own thing.
They must put their telephones away and not focus so much on
Instagram You see all these young chefs, a lot of them are making
things just for pictures. But taste is the most important thing.”
Passing on his knowledge to the next generation of chefs is vitally
important to Herman and it was one of the reasons he agreed to let
a film crew follow him for close to two years following his decision
to close Oud Sluis. The documentary was promoted as a ‘revealing
story about perfection, ambition and sacrifices’, but Herman also
believes it can serve as inspiration for young chefs who have a goal
and are determined to achieve them. “I enjoyed the documentary as
it was very natural, they just followed me and everything was real,”
he says. “But I do think it is good for young chefs to see as it shows
that if you believe in something and truly focus yourself, then you will
be paid back in full.” Herman also has another life lesson for those
just starting out in the kitchen, and that is to find the right balance
between work and family. While at Oud Sluis he rarely disconnected
from the restaurant, with any spare time spent dreaming up new
dishes and doing all he could to achieve three Michelin stars.
He never truly felt relaxed in his own house and could not dedicate
enough time to his four children. A fact that has only hit home in
recent years. “It is necessary to realise that you have another life
outside of the kitchen. And I am enjoying that much more now but
it took me a couple of years to realise that home is a place that
can be enjoyed,” he admits. “Sitting there now it is a little unreal as
previously I would always have had an anxious feeling as I would
be thinking about the restaurant or a certain dish. Now I am more
relaxed and I enjoy cooking for the kids on the weekends. “I think
my youngest is even showing an interest in cooking, he has the
character of a chef already. He is only six but he is eating everything
and loves his food. It is very special.”
This spread, clockwise: The Jane restaurant in Antwerp; Sergio
Herman; Jane Dessert; Sergio Herman; Eggplant feta spread;
At.mosphere dining room
It is clear from the way that Herman speaks that moving on from
his beloved Oud Sluis was the correct decision. He talks with great
pride about his family and clearly enjoys being able to watch his
oldest son play football. Now he can even join in the conversation
with the fellow proud parents as his mind is no longer constantly
occupied by thoughts of his restaurant. Yet it seems the story of
Sergio Herman is not yet complete and as he sits more than 500
metres above downtown Dubai it is clear he is anxious to start
another new chapter.
The Jane may be bringing yet more recognition and providing
the Dutch master chef with the chance to spend more time with his
family, but there is a part of Herman that craves a new challenge.
And it seems a new project could soon be selected. “I have the
feeling that there is an opportunity to start something special in
another city,” he adds. “I am looking for a venue that reflects my
character. I am not a bling bling guy and I prefer more pureness
and a more raw style of architecture. “The building has to give me
the right feeling and I have to be able to find the right staff. But as
always, I will follow my gut. I know no other way.”
Adrian Back visits At.mosphere Dubai
t is now more than six years since At.mosphere was opened on
the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa to a great deal of fanfare. Billing
itself as the highest restaurant in the world and guaranteeing
breath-taking views of virtually the entire city, it certainly had a
unique selling point. Yet I struggled to find a friend, colleague or even
acquaintance who had dined 442 metres above downtown Dubai.
Perhaps the restaurant’s promise of delivering far more than just an
exceptional view had not been met. Or perhaps the controversial
minimum charge when first opened had proved off putting. Still, I
made my way to the restaurant without any preconceptions and
was looking forward to sampling high-quality food that would match
the jaw-dropping views.
Certainly there is little doubt that anyone arriving will not be
impressed after zooming up the high-speed lift and being greeted
by floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a unique view of the
ever-evolving city. The restaurant itself is on the small side and
is somewhat monotone, with mahogany and plush red hues
dominating the space. There are also a limited number of tables by
the window, with these tending to accommodate smaller groups.
Unlike the lounge which featured a live violinist, the music in the
restaurant is very much ambient and there is no doubt that this
is a fine-dining restaurant with the vast majority of patrons having
dressed up for the occasion. Once seated the staff are friendly
and knowledgeable, helping guide you through the menu and very
quickly bring out a signature cocktail and small but flavourful amuse
bouche to start your experience.
The menu itself has a wide variety of dishes but does cater
for those with deep pockets, especially when it comes to those
who prefer seafood and steaks. The 11+ Japanese wagyu sirloin
is inordinately priced at $250, while the cold and warm seafood
platters will set you back $260 should you choose to accompany it
with grilled blue lobster tail. Even without the lobster be prepared to
pay $210 for crab legs, scallops, oysters and salmon when opting
for the cold seafood tower. However, there is an a la carte menu
and it is here that you will find dishes that do provide more value
for your money.
I decided to ask for the opinion of my waiter who was more than
happy to recommend several dishes and eventually settled upon
the blue lobster. Beautifully presented, the smoked beetroot and
carrot still retained a crunch, as did the small caraway crackers.
A light horseradish quenelle added some much-needed spice to
the salad, but the portion of lobster was somewhat of a let-down.
Expecting that wonderful meaty texture and subtle shellfish flavour,
instead I was greeted by a stringy and tough first bite that clearly
Clockwise: At.mosphere dining; Chocolate dessert; Edible flowers;
Burj Khalifa; At.mosphere interior; Salmon
“The pumpkin mousse
was wonderfully light with
a subtle taste”
showed the tail had been overcooked. This was disappointing
given the small size of the dish and the $75 price tag. Fortunately
the main course more than made up for the anti-climactic starter
and having been warned about the lengthy cooking time, it was
certainly worth the wait.
The star of the dish was very much the substantial portion of dry
aged beef loin. Both succulent and tender, the full density of flavour
was enhanced thanks to the well-matched soubise and Barolo
sauce. Everything the starter lacked, the main had in abundance.
The meat was perfectly cooked, with a hint of red in the middle,
and the portion was on the larger side. The crispy potato stack was
well seasoned, while the tongue and tail housed in a watercress
crust did not overpower the beef which was rightfully the main
focus of the dish.
So far my experienced was mixed and I hoped that by ordering
the pumpkin dessert I would be able to finish on a high. Once it
This page: entrance at Burj Khalifa; Restaurant interior
arrived the presentation was stunning and I couldn’t wait to see if
the various elements of the dish would work together. The pumpkin
mousse was wonderfully light and had a subtle taste that was lifted
thanks to the cassis base. This intense blackcurrant character was
enhanced thanks to several purée dots of cassis also situated
around the plate. Similarly the brown butter ice cream brought a
delicate taste that matched well with the pumpkin and the hint of
cinnamon that ran through the small crumble that sat alongside
the mousse.
Lunch was then completed in the form of the complimentary
dessert that came served in a wooden box. Once opened it reveals
cold smoke that is hiding two small chocolates with a flavour-filled
sorbet interior that left a smile on my face.
It was certainly enough to make me forget about the
disappointment of the starter, but did make me wonder if the
entire experience lived up to the rather full price tag. At.mosphere
definitely has dishes full of finesse and flavour, and the amazing
views are a sight to behold.
But given the premium pricing, that puts alongside some of the
very best restaurants in the UAE, At.mosphere still needs a little
more consistency.
However, those seeking a unique experience and with deep
pockets will be attracted to the location and it is perhaps no surprise
that it is a favourite among UAE visitors.
Words by Adrian Back. Photos by: At.mosphere
“Given the unique location it is
perhaps no surprise that At.mosphere
is a favourite among UAE visitors.”
This spread, left to right: Patatas Bravas; Joan Gomez; Vinoteca table;
Vinoteca oil and vinegar table; Petit fours; Paella.
Inspiring cuisine and chic
Mediterranean style; La Vinoteca
Barcelona offers an authentic
Spanish dining experience
f you are looking for that somewhere special to enjoy a romantic
meal, a sophisticated business lunch, or a family brunch with that
added touch of European flair, then the chic classic style of La
Vinoteca Barcelona is for you; not only a designer ambiance but
gourmet cuisine too.
The casual yet elegant charm of La Vinoteca Barcelona offers
a rare Spanish gastronomic treat; distinctive tapas and plates of
classic and modern Spanish favourites provide an unforgettable
experience. The stylish and relaxed restaurant celebrates the
passionate culture and gastronomy of Spain, delivering a selection
of Mediterranean tapas and signature dishes prepared from quality
produce by Spanish chefs.
Led by the unbridled culinary talents of chef Joan Gomez and his
gifted kitchen brigade, La Vinoteca Barcelona stands out as one of
Bahrain’s fine dining destinations, located in the heart of Bahrain’s
Block 338. The new menu features both traditional and modern
inspired interpretations of Spanish plates such as tantalising tapas
and pintxos, patatas bravas, croquetas and mojama; and signature
dishes such as a classic paella, evoking the distinct flavours of Iberia.
La Vinoteca powerhouse Joan, started cooking at the tender age
of 14 at his family’s hotel in Barcelona. He has worked alongside
Michelin-starred chefs such as legendary three-starred Ferran Adria
of Il Bulli, Carlos Gaig and Joan Roca, in some of the world’s finest
kitchens, developing a distinct style and infectious enthusiasm
which he has brought to Bahrain.
Dining in La Vinoteca Barcelona is a special experience; the
create the perfect canvas for chef Joan’s culinary art to play out.
To complement the inspired cuisine and to elevate your dining
experience, sample a glass of something special from the large
selection of fine grape from Bodega Torres. There is no doubting
the tempting array of dishes makes for quite a challenge, as you
wrestle over just what to select.
Every meal is a special occasion, savour patatas bravas stuffed
“The casual yet elegant charm of La Vinoteca Barcelona offers a rare
Spanish gastronomic treat”
sleek new décor, of natural hues and textures, provides a warm
welcome, with large windows providing natural light by day and
discreet lighting by night, which brings out the earthy tones of
the rich autumn colours to provide a sociable atmosphere and a
stylish space. The friendly and attentive staff show just the right
level of service without being obtrusive, which conveys a sense of
comfort that instantly makes you feel at home, coming together to
with a spicy chili sauce and olive oil mayo, accompanied by Pa
amb tomàquet, a crisp toasted olive bread spread with ripe tomato,
extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, followed by a melange of calamari
stuffed with minced beef and prawns, cooked in a seafood and
Romesco sauce; and Croquetas de morcilla, Spanish black pudding
croquetas topped with fire roasted red peppers and parsley, which
provide the perfect balance of fresh flavours to awaken your tasteFOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA
buds for the main event.
Try a traditional Spanish paella. If you haven’t savoured the
delights and complex flavours of a genuine paella before then
you are in for a gastronomic experience. Paella is perhaps a fitting
dish to bring back to the Middle East with its origins steeped in
the Moorish heritage of Valencia in Spain, where casseroles of
rice, fish and spices have been served on special occasions for
centuries. Savour a traditional paella made with fresh fish, calamari,
mussels, prawns and lobster; a combination of textures and tastes,
combined with rich aromas that will entertain your palate as layers
of flavours delicately unfold. Another Spanish culinary treasure is
Salt Baked Fish, a whole fish baked in a salt crust and served with
butter sauce, fresh steamed vegetables and a crispy fennel salad.
This is probably one of the best ways to cook white fish, and is
perfect for hammour. The flesh stays moist drawing just a little of
that sea salt, making for the perfect fresh flavour.
The desserts remain true to Spanish cuisine with Chocolate
Buñuelos, a sort of Spanish light fluffy chocolate filled doughnut,
dusted with sugar and served with cinnamon ice-cream, a simple
yet tasty treat. For the true dessert-lover La Vinoteca Barcelona
Words: Nick Baines. Images: La Vinoteca Barcelona; Food and Travel
This spread, left to right: La Vinoteca Barcelona bar; Vinoteca
Croquetas; Cardamon ice cream; Guitarist; Beef moullete; Joan
Gomez; Interior.
“For a true Iberian experience
enjoy the complex flavours of
traditional Spanish paella”
offers its own indulgent Mango Soufflé, served with Pistachio
Sablés, which provide a perfect harmony for the delicate tropical
overtones of the soufflé; and an absolutely delicious cardamom icecream. And to complete your meal why not enjoy coffee and petit
fours al fresco in the elegant secluded garden
The restaurant has distinct personas depending upon what
time of day you visit, eat inside or dine alfresco; delivering twice
the experience, but the same delectable food, a real treat for
gourmands and casual diners alike. La Vinoteca Barcelona is a
must have experience on any visit to Bahrain.
This spread, left to right:
Exterior; Executive suite;
Sandra Tikal.
Management by Design
Sandra Tikal, GM Palazzo Versace Dubai
Francesca Jackson discovered what it takes to hold the tiller of Dubai’s most
iconic luxury destination from Chief Operating Officer of ENSHAA Hospitality
Division & General Manager Palazzo Versace Dubai, Sandra Tikal
legant, charming and deeply passionate about her work,
Sandra Tikal brings a wealth of experience and drive to
Palazzo Versace. Sandra knows the luxury brand well, having
been GM of both Palazzo Versace Gold Coast Australia and now
Palazzo Versace Dubai.
Running a restaurant is hard work at the best of times,
running a hotel more so; did you always want to be work in
the hospitality industry? And how did you fall upon a career
in hospitality?
I fell into the hospitality industry – I didn’t really know what I wanted
to do, I was 21 when I came into hotels. I had previously worked in
restaurants as second jobs and that’s where my love for hospitality
came from; I enjoyed being surrounded by people. I enjoy the
diversity of hotels, it’s a multi-skilled operation, you have to know
about everything from engineering to housekeeping and food &
beverage to sales & marketing. It’s an amazingly interesting business
and I have had the privilege to work in almost every department in
hotels. So I became hooked, and in fact I tried to leave the industry
twice, because it as an all-consuming career, and I am a person
who is driven by my passion, but I could never stay away!
What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?
My first job was actually working for Safeways, a supermarket chain
in Australia, working at the checkout, but by the time I left I was
their youngest Deli Manageress. It was a fabulous education and an
excellent introduction in how to behave in service.
Please share some leadership tips you feel are essential to
your job.
I feel that working with a team and being able to help them grow,
and to mentor them is not only important but also rewarding. I have
benefited so much from being on the receiving end. I prefer an
informal approach, a people culture, which I brought with me from
Australia; which I think is even more important here in Dubai with the
rich social diversity and so many different nationalities and cultures.
What led you to join / re-join Palazzo Versace / ENSHAA?
I actually joined ENSHAA in Dubai on the proviso I was not going to be
the General Manager of Palazzo Versace Dubai, but I really wanted
to see the project finished; I was responsible for development,
design and branding on the project – and whilst I was doing that I
was also CEO of the Signature Clubs division for two years. During
that time I opened the Capital Club East Africa in Nairobi; but as the
opening of Palazzo Versace Dubai neared I didn’t have time for both
roles, focusing on the hotel until 2010 when I moved on.
However, I was tempted back by the CEO of ENSHAA, Raza
Jafar, just a couple of years later; I have the DNA of the brand from
the very beginning (back in 2000) as an operator in Australia, and I
think that he felt that the property needed to have the passion and
“I feel that at Palazzo Versace we deliver a boutique experience”
understanding that I bring, and inject it into the team. And for me it
has been a terrific journey.
Palazzo Versace is a unique property in the region, with
only one other property in Australia and although the brand
is synonymous with style and glamour, how does this
reflect to product recognition and operational success?
Versace was the first fashion brand to enter the hotel market,
with the Gold Coast property in Australia, which although a
little smaller than Palazzo Versace Dubai is very similar. And at
the time Versace were the only brand that had the complete
package, including home furnishings, accessories and furniture,
the complete package; making the proposition truly unique; it’s
not just a brand name in front of the building. One of the signature
elements of the Versace brand is that everything is designed with
warmth, and inspired from history.
What are the challenges managing such a unique property?
It is certainly different running Palazzo Versace Dubai, its part fashion
brand and part hotel. Fashion brands tend to be seasonal with new
collections every few months, whereas a hotel is here to stay. Hotel
designs needs to live for two or three years, whereas a fashion range
just needs to live until the next collection. So you need to find the happy
medium in between. For example, if we are using photography that
includes people, then the fashion element may be only be available for
use for a year. It’s important to stay true to the brand, and sometimes
at to the detriment of the bottom line – I am not saying that the bottom
line is not important but the brand is a key element in the fabric of
the property. You have to find the best outcome, whilst staying true
to the high-quality nature of the brand. The design process for every
item is meticulous and cannot be compromised, even if the items are
unbranded, as they reflect upon the whole quality experience. Even the
flowers in the hotel are grown specially for us. The purpose is to feel
as they you are entering someone’s home – a fabulous villa on Lake
Como. Detail is everything, no matter how small.
What trends do you see for the hospitality sector in the
coming years?
As more and more brands are being bought up under one umbrella,
I think that people will look for more unique experiences, not just in
hotels but on the high street too; people want something different.
I feel that at Palazzo Versace we deliver a boutique experience,
despite being a large property, providing something iconic & unique.
What do you consider to be the essentials of exceptional
customer service?
The need to create an environment with a sincere team spirit; we
don’t have a separation of management, we all work together. I try
to lead by example, and I will prioritise anything that is important for
the team, at the expense of my personal time, in order to support the
team. For example, unless I am entertaining for business, we all eat
in the same staff canteen. I have an open-door policy and believe
that it is important to not only listen to our staff, but also act upon their
contributions, and include our entire team in everything that we do.
There is stiff competition from other luxury properties in
Dubai and the region. Beyond the Versace brand what
makes Palazzo Versace stand out?
Whilst we have to create an awareness of the brand and hotel
– people do come here for the brand, but it’s not necessarily to
everyone’s taste. But I believe in our own product and if we stay true
to our brand and maintain the high-quality of service and standards
throughout the property, our success will grow.
Lima Dubai is a casual restaurant that offers modern Peruvian cuisine from awardwinning chef Virgilio Martinez; his Central restaurant in Lima, Peru is rated as the
No.1 restaurant in Latin America, and No.5 on the ’World’s 50 Best Restaurants’
global list; and Lima London has already garnered a Michelin Star.
he menu is global Peruvian cuisine, served in a casual way.
According to Martinez “Lima is designed to be Peruvian food
with tradition, with some innovation to become part of the city
it is in, but it can be anywhere in the world. - I think it’s because
when you go to a Peruvian restaurant, it’s a whole experience – you
find a whole new world of seeing ingredients, serving food, and
sharing ideas.”
The Martinez ethos is reflected in the warm welcome and friendly
service; and the restaurant is an interior designer’s dream. The vibrant
contemporary space enjoys an abundance of natural light during the
day that sets off the eclectic décor; an ideal venue for a family brunch,
dinner or just after-work drinks.
The ‘Peruvian Expedition Brunch’ is a set 5-course sharing menu;
setting it aside from the usual melee of Friday buffet brunches.
The menu could be more balanced; an ample selection of starters,
but you can only select one dish between two from the mains. There
is a great emphasis on the starters and a limited selection for desserts,
which is a great shame if you’ve got a sweet tooth, but a chocolate
box is available if you ask. If you aren’t a fan of fish then you could be
in trouble, as it features strongly on the menu.
I probably should mention the service at this point; as highlighted
earlier, the service is friendly enough but when the server ran through
the menu descriptions, they were rattled off with the speed of a
Gatling gun; the words blurred into one-another. Information overload
that left us as un-informed at the end as when we started.
The food soon started to arrive (which, at the beginning was fine, as
we’d had a light breakfast). Although too many dishes were served far
too quickly, not only overwhelming the table and but our appetites too,
giving us a feeling that we were being hurried out the door. Another
problem of the rushed service is that many of the dishes have gone
cold before you can get around to tasting them; and then, without
warning, and not necessarily before we had finished, the plates were
cleared and more food arrived. Too much, too quick.
Having mentioned some misgivings on the service, for the most
part the food was delightful and the dishes on the brunch menu (save
for the eagerness of delivery) were well presented and full of flavour.
DUCK BAO BUNS Pulled Duck, pickles and spice rocoto sauce.
The presentation reminded me of having fish and chips in newspaper
at Côte Brasserie; beautifully presented in wooden bowl, and tasted
amazing. There were different textures. The spicy sauce was smooth
and rich, with a great balance of sweet and sour, that was certainly
not short on flavour and is definitely a dish that will tantalise your tastebuds. The duck was moist and tender and worked well with the salad
leaves, and well complemented by the light and fluffy buns.
This spread, clockwise: roe; Lima Dubai Lounge; risotto;
lounge; Virgilio Martinez
This spread, clockwise: staircase; dining space; Bao; Virgilio
Martinez; Ceviche
“The ‘Peruvian Expedition Brunch’
is a set 5-course sharing menu”
and the oriental flavours took us on a culinary a trip around Asia.
Simple but delicious!
CATCH OF THE DAY The fresh meaty morsels of salty seabass
were flavoursome, and perfectly balanced by the red onions and
Cancha corn, which added a welcome crunch to the dish and gave
it a nice earthy finish. If you are looking for something a bit different
do try this!
CEVICHE SALMON Fresh Salmon, Yellow tiger milk, Beetroot and
Asparagus Tempura. Not the best of dishes, the flesh was opaque,
firm and slightly chewy and overpowered by the tangy, citrusy, yellow
tiger milk sauce - which was extremely hot; having lost its battle with
the fryer- the over-battered asparagus showed scant resemblance to
this most noble of vegetables.
TRADITIONAL CHICKEN CAUSA Yellow Potato, Chicken Breast,
Peruvian olives. Again the presentation of this dish was exquisitely
executed; the attention to detail evident. The first thing to hit your
taste-buds is a citrusy kick from the sauce. The textures are soft and
creamy and the aftertaste quite sharp – which seemed to overpower
the chicken.
PRAWNS ANTICUCHO Marinated with the traditional Inka Panka
Chilli, corn cake. The mouth-watering aromas were reflected
beautifully in the marinated sauce. You could taste the freshness of
the prawns followed by a delightful smoky barbecue aftertaste.
VEGETARIAN CHIFA RICE Chinese style rice, Mushrooms, Spring
Onion, Asparagus and Broccoli. The rice was fluffy light and sticky,
LAMB SECO Slow-cooked lamb, Pumpkin two ways, Kiwicha,
Coriander marinade. The lamb was unctuous and tender; and the
pumpkin cream made the dish, with its layers of rich and sumptuous
flavours. Hats off to the chef!
brûlée, Pachamanca sauce. The chicken had a hint of mint which
was unusual yet inviting at the same time, and the sautéed potatoes
were buttery and melted on your tongue. Possibly not to everyone’s
palette but definitely a dish to try, if just to experience the unique blend
of textures and flavours that will leave you thinking.
CREME BRÛLÉE The indulgent delicate creamy overtones of the
brûlée was simply delicious!
CHOCOLATE BOX Aesthetically pleasing strawberry lollies
dipped in dark chocolate - They were sensational - the flavours
were in harmony and resurrected many happy childhood memories!
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE An absolutely perfect dark chocolate
fondant heaven! Definitely one for all the chocoholics out there!
Although there were a few issues, and a couple of the dishes were
perhaps wanting, it was an overall enjoyable experience and I look
forward to my next a visit to experience the main menu – and If you
are looking for a chic destination with a memorable atmosphere, then
you should certainly pay a visit to Lima Dubai.
Lima Dubai is located in The Square, City Walk; The Peruvian
Expedition Brunch set 5-course sharing menu is served every
Friday from 12 noon till 4pm, with prices starting at $90pp for the
non-alcoholic brunch and $125pp for the alcoholic option. For more
information contact:, +971 56 500
4571 or visit
Seven seas Of Wry
Food and Travel columnist Kevin Pilley visits the Turks and Caicos’ Conch Festival
he ambient music was fusion. Mainly steelpan, ripsaw and the
Atlantic Ocean. But there was also a lot of calypso, spouge,
scratch, ska, soca, rocksteady, and maybe some junkanoo
too. But very little chutney.
The drink was various, predominantly “Turk’s Head” hops, vintage
grain punch and frozen mojitos. But everyone at the “Three Queens
Bar” was on the trumpets.
There isn’t much else to do on the Turks and Caicos Islands
than put a trumpet to your mouth and swallow it. Whole. Several
times. On Providenciales, the largest of the 40-island archipelago
and British Overseas Territory south-east of the Bahamas, everyone
conches it up.
There is a popular folk myth that if you hold a conch shell to your
ear you can hear the turquoise sea.
And a 11-point serrated carpenter’s handsaw.
At the end of November, the Three Queen’s in Blue Hills near Five
Cays hosts the annual “Conch Festival”, a showcase of local culture
featuring a conch fritter eating contest, a conch knocking contest,
and a conch peeling competition. There used to be a conch blowing
tournament. The winner of this prestigious event had to produce a
recognizable tune rather than a plumbing anomaly. And not infarct.
On some islands fishermen still announce they have fish for sale
by sounding a conch sell. At the Turks conch festival contestants
in the conch blowing section often announce they are just about to
suffer a prolapse.
Cookery categories at the festival include Best Conch Salad,
Best Conch Chowder and Best Speciality Conch, as well as Best
in Show.
Leeward Settlement boasts the world’s first commercial conch
farm. Naturally, you can go on a conch mari-culture tour beside
the 65 acres of sub -sea pasture, see the pens and learn about
Queen Conch and environmentally-conscious sources of low-cost
protein. And that conch is now listed as a commercially endangered
species due to pollution and over-fishing. Ninety per cent of seafood
consumed in the US are imported. Conch harvesting is prohibited
in Florida and adjacent Federal states. Many Caribbean islands are
forbidden to export conch.
After two days, I was well and truly conched out.
The Turks proves it is possible to be stalked by a large shell.
Everywhere serves conch.
“Coco Bistro” offers conch ravioli with sweet pepper and rose
sauce. “The Bay Bistro” serves conch crepes (Best in Fest 2009).
“The Beach House” serves a conch salad with heirloom tomatoes
wrapped in rice paper. “The Infiniti” at the Grace Bay Club (Dress
code: resort elegant) boasts barely grilled conch with Japanese
cucumber, green zebra tomatoes and smoked Habanero dressing.”
The Green Island Café” at Sandy Point Marina on North Caicos
serves cracked conch with waffles. “Hemingway’s” offers conch
fingers. “Bugaloo’s” in Five Cays, next to the Sunrise Fish Plant”
scorches, sautés and blackens its conch.
Says top TCI chef Clive Whent, originally from London :
“Conch is a super food, one of the ocean’s greatest gifts, it’s low
in cholesterol and high in protein. Conch is unique There’s no end
to how to serve it. And if you’re really lucky, you might be gifted with
a conch pearl inside the shell,
Blue Hills Road off the Leeward Highway has conch shacks like
Mark Clayton’s “Da Conch Shack” – home of the Hump and Bump
Party”- where you “eat” rather than “dine”. And are liberal with the
local “PeppaJoy” handmade gourmet hot sauce. Menus include
conch sautéed in rum and butter sauce. Your waiter will even wade
out to sea and select a conch for you. You can’t get away from the
white-meated “Strombus Giga”.
Having eaten conch in its cracked (fried), frittered, sweet ‘n’
sour, smoked and even at the Sibonne Beach Resort in its pecanencrusted form, I had developed many attributes of the celebrated
Caribbean gastropod.
I didn’t move very far. Or very quickly.
I hit the mojitos and “Shark Bite” cocktails and mellowed out to the
This spread, clockwise: The view at Grace Bay, Bugaloo;
Da Conch Shack; Conch shells, Conch salad
local ripsaw music. And got into the rake and scrape. Bracing the
saw on his thigh, handle side up, a dude in dreadlocks and a snood
scraped a knife along his 11-point edge. A friend called Dezzie
jammed along, using a screwdriver as his plectrum and making a big
play of his teeth. They bent and wobbled together.
Ripsaw music originated in the Middle and North Caicos and
found its way to the Bahamas. The saw is the national instrument of
the island as the conch is its official marine animal.
Along with the spiny lobster and the flamingo, the conch has pride
of place on the islands’ coat of arms. It must be the world’s only
heraldic mollusc.
Columbus discovered conch on the Turks & Caicos islands in
1492. He described the shells as “the size of a calf head”. Provo
has the world’s only commercial conch farm and you can go on a
tour and learn all you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask
about edible trumpets.
Like all parts are edible. Except the shell. The conch is called
“Titan’s Trumpet”. It is reputed to be the instruments most favoured
by mermaids and mermen.
Provo, 550 miles from Florida, is becoming increasingly known for
its realty, its marina townhouses and its “new paradigms of home
ownership”. And its “private enclaves of luxurious condominium
residences.” Accommodation ranges from plush sprawling five-star,
all-inclusive stalags with well-rehearsed super-casual staff and asmuch-as-you-can-heap-on-one-plate buffets to marvellous B&B
The up-market package hotels boast “exclusive bathroom
amenities” (free shampoo), foyer boutiques and market themselves
as “hideaways for romantic exclusionists”.
Provo is developing fast. It saw its first car in 1964. The locals
or “belongers” are descendants of African slaves brought over by
loyalists from Georgia and South Carolina to grow cotton and sisal.
It’s their cultural heritage which is celebrated at the islands’ annual
conch jamboree.
Terry Morris from Grand Turk won the prestigious conch knocking
or shucking title, opening thirteen humanely and without significant
mutilation in the allotted five minutes. A half-hour flight away from
Provo is seven-mile long by one wide Grand Turk is the administrative
capital of the British Dependent Territory. Cockburn Town is a
charmingly sleepy place where a tailback means two bicyclists
stopping to talk to each other down Front Street.
Pillory Beach is where Columbus made his landfall. As did the late
astronaut John Glenn. In 1962. The National Museum possesses
the hull and rigging of the Molasses Reef”, the oldest shipwreck in
the New World. The 150-year-old lighthouse was made in Britain
and transported over. The only bright lights you will see will be on a
glow worm cruise.
Goatskin drums announced the headline act, hipster saw hero
Wenty Rigby. The “Caicos Slings”, Dirty Bananas” and “Fuzzy
Buccaneers” kept on coming. Trumpets build up a thirst.
Soon we were all “wined-up” and dancing the local dance,” The
Wine”. There is “The Conch” too.
Which involves a lot of swaying and hooking your foot behind your
ankle. Which drinking mojitos does too.
Anthea Rowan tells us why just a little of
what you fancy, really can do you good
y grandmother lived by the adage ‘a little of what you fancy
does you good’; a slice of excellent bread (not the whole
loaf); a nip of good brandy (not the bottle); a few squares
of the best chocolate (never the bar).
The phrase was made famous by a risqué music hall performer,
Marie Lloyd, towards the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. She
sang: I always hold in having it if you fancy it. If you fancy it that’s
understood. And suppose it makes you fat? I don’t worry over that
‘Cos a little of what you fancy does you good!’
The little, then, the operative word. Though the ‘fancy’ is pretty key
too; I don’t know about you, but I never fancied a bowl of broccoli?
And a lot of foods that get bad rap especially in these days
of lean ‘clean’ zero carbs eating, are actually imperative to good,
wholesome, happy health.
So this piece is a small celebration of the six apparently deadly
foods that are good for you in moderation, remember, always in
polite (I’ll just have the one ...) moderation though not so polite
you’re reduced to the paper thin slice of cake that Kristin Scott
Thomas’s Alette Naylor, insisted upon ‘un petit peu, un peu plus
petit’ in Confessions of a Shopaholic: you must at least taste the
Gluten is deemed the social pariah of food now: everybody’s on
a Gluten Free diet. But not all flours are grown, or ground, equal.
Dozens of studies demonstrate that glutencontaining foods wholewheat, rye and barley are essential for good health and for the
This spread, left to right: Artisan bread; Homemade Nutella; Poached eggs; Butter; Portion of chips; Filet wedge.
98% of people (yup, that many of us don’t need to avoid the stuff)
that don’t have gluten issues, those same whole grains—which do
contain gluten (did I mention that?) — are linked to a reduced risk of
heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer and here’s why: gluten
helps boost immune function. After less than a week on added
gluten protein, volunteers of one study showed increased natural
killer cell activity, which could help us fight cancer and viral
infections. Another study found that high gluten bread improved
triglyceride levels more effectively than regular bread. And yet
another study see what I mean: dozens of them found that a month
on a glutenfree diet may reduce (our natural, healthy, important) gut
flora and immune function, potentially setting those on glutenfree
diets up for an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in their intestines.
Why? Because the very components wheat sensitive people have
problems with, like FODMAP and fructans, may act as probiotics
and feed our good bacteria.
So, there you are. Have a piece of that delicious, freshly baked
bread, hot out of the oven, infusing the kitchen with its warm lifeaffirming scent. And slather it with butter. Yup. Really: butter, not
some sweaty yellow goo in a tub masquerading as the Real Thing.
Butter is the ultimate in unhealthy: the shameful fat face of obesity
and rampant appetites, blamed for everything from heart disease
to high cholesterol. But butter’s reputation is undeserved. Sure, it’s
high in fat but that’s not altogether a bad thing. Fat means fat soluble
vitamins which means A, E and K2. K2 is a fairly hard vitamin to find,
butter is a primary and valuable source of K2 which has health
benefits. It is involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has
been associated with many diseases, including cardiovascular
disease, cancer and osteoporosis. Dairy from grass-fed cows is
particularly rich in vitamin K2 so in the end, happy cows mean
happy health. Additionally, butter contains short and medium chain
fats which are metabolized differently from other fats. They lead
to improved satiety (that is, you’ll feel fuller, longer) and ironically
increased fat burning.
And replacing butter with margarine compounds the loss of ‘good’
fats that come with butter especially the stuff that comes from those
contented grass-fed cows: margarine is highly processed and
chock full of harmful trans fats; in one study, scientists examined
the effects of butter and margarine on cardiovascular disease
Margarine significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular disease,
while butter had no effect.
Butter also contains butyrate. Science suggests butyrate prevents
weight gain on an unhealthy diet by increasing energy expenditure
and reducing food intake (see: there’s that satiety and fat burning
thing again) and lends an anti-inflammatory component.
Grass fed butter, is a great source of a fatty acid called
Conjugated Linoleic Acid which has a positive effect on metabolism
and is actually sold ironies abound as a weight loss supplement.
So whilst it is not advisable to wait for your toast to cool and then
top it with butter cut to cheese slice thickness (as my father did), it’s
perfectly OK recommended even to spread it on warm bread so
its richness sinks deep in and is evident in your first bite.
Egg white omelettes. Ever eaten one? Ever heard of anything so
insipidly patently pointless?
Persecuted by the persistent myth that dietary cholesterol should
be avoided, egg yolks have had bad press since the seventies.
For years we’ve been warned to discard the yolks. However, the
reality is that by discarding the yolk, you’re denying yourself the
most nutrient dense part of this incredible food. There is little to no
evidence that links egg yolks with heart disease, if anything, they
protect against it. A single egg packs 6g of protein for the cost of
just 80 calories and provides 13 essential nutrients, all in the yolk; a
whole egg is a rich source of protein, providing a complete range of
amino acids, omega3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin A,
selenium, and magnesium.
Eggs, far from being the demons of the breakfast table, are
actually a mean, lean protein packed machine, delivered in an
incredibly clever totally bio degradable capsule designed by Mother
Nature herself. That, surely, has got to prove they’re a good thing.
Ok. Not Chips exactly, but Potatoes.
Another innocent staple banished needlessly from the supper
table by those No and Low Carb zealots. But potatoes are a
wonderful food: humble, generous. The ultimate in warm, floury
comfort eating. It’s the way we cook them that’s key: chuck them
into a deep fryer with week old fat and you’re not doing to do them
or yourself much good but bake them with their skins on, split them
open and add a knob of butter, see above, and you are transported
to some safe, soulrestoring place where everything in the world
is soft and kind. And potatoes, for their unassuming modesty are
a powerful food, low on phytic acid they are easily digested but
simultaneously jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, you’d be
hard pressed to find so economically packaged a food at the same
One of the nutritional benefits of eating potatoes is their vitamin
B6, content. B6 helps your body produce neurotransmitters which
afford communication between nerve cells, as well as between
nerves and muscles. Eating a large potato provides your body with
98% of your body’s recommended daily intake of this important
vitamin. They’re also rich in Vitamin C, the same potato will give you
a quarter of your daily requirement of Vitamin C which helps protect
you from cancer and strokes.
As to the other nutrients, potatoes contain manganese which
supports metabolism and bone health and potassium which is
imperative for muscle function and a healthy nervous system.
Recent studies suggest that potatoes may be an especially
important food given our highly stressed contemporary lives.
Scientists at the UKs Institute for Food Research have identified
blood pressure lowering compounds, kukoamines, in potatoes.
Avoid the deep fat fryer, instead mash them with low fat Greek
yogurt, top a baked spud with broccoli (we can’t avoid it altogether)
and sea salt or dress a potato salad with roasted garlic and olive oil.
The myth remains that all fatty meat is bad and we ought only eat
This spread, left to right: Beef Nehari; Lobster Benedict; Steak; Chocolate bar assortment; Truffles; Maya Fondue.
lean meat that means no crispy bacon, no gloriously marbled beef,
no browned, salted pork crackling. But in truth both are important
in our diet. For years, we have been warned to focus on muscle
meats chicken breasts and lean cuts of beef but avoiding the odd
cuts of meat (moderation, remember) is completely unnecessary.
Chicken legs, thighs, wings and even skin are whole foods that
can be incorporated into a healthy diet, as well as rich cuts of beef
brisket, shanks, ribs, lamb shoulder, even bacon. Think about it,
traditional cultures (pre-the contemporary low carb, gluten free, fat
free, clean eating, green juicing brigade) did not have the option
read time or luxury to pick and choose what cuts of meat they
wanted to eat, they used the whole animal. The benefit of these
richer sources of meat is that they contain higher amounts of fatsoluble vitamins A, D, E and K2, as well as glycine (from skin,
bones, cartilage) which is an important amino acid that plays a role
in nearly every part of the body.
We don’t get all these goodies from smugger, leaner cuts of
meat. But when it comes to fatty cuts of meat, do consider the
quality of the cut: conventional sources might not contain a wellbalanced omega 3 to 6 ratio, so do like Butter and opt for happy
grassfed animals.
And whilst you do that, whilst you’re in your local butcher’s
considering a rolled sirloin for your Sunday Roast, admiring the
dense flesh, ribboned with white fat, whilst trying not to salivate
guiltily, remember that we’ve been trying to reduce animal fats in
our diets for thirty years but we’re not healthier, we’re just heavier.
Chocolate is rich in fat and sugar so that’s not it must be said
altogether a good thing but, and it’s a big BUT, there are loads of
good reasons to eat it in mindful moderation chocolate contains
flavonoids, substances known to have anti-inflammatory effects
and antioxidant properties that help mop up disease prompting
agents in the body. It’s also full of the amino acid tryptophan, which
is an essential ingredient in the production of the happy hormone,
the neurotransmitter serotonin. As well as tryptophan, chocolate
contains phenyl ethylamine which the body converts to dopamine,
which helps us experience pleasure.
Dark chocolate is especially good for us so good in fact that four
squares a day are virtually prescribed. Researchers in Switzerland
and one must assume they know their stuff report that eating dark
chocolate every day for two weeks reduces stress hormones,
including cortisol, even in super anxious people. There is an
abundance of global research that proclaims chocolate is a sound
dietary choice (not one of our five or is it seven a day admittedly,
but almost): the Swedes established that eating 45g a week
reduced stroke risk, the boffins at Cambridge seem to agree; a
team of Italian scientists found that eating small amounts increases
insulin sensitivity which reduces the diabetes risk; German scientists
believe that the flavanols in dark chocolate could protect women’s
skin from the sun’s UV rays and British psychologists found that
those same flavanols can render a person more numerical but as
one who has never been able to add up despite a lifetime of nightly
chocolate, I’m not sure I agree with this one.
The last word must go to French woman Jeanne Louise Calment
who was born in 1875 long before people conceived of green,
clean, lectin/lactose/gluten/fat/funfree food who apparently ate a
kilo of dark chocolate every week and lived to be 122. I bet she
ate baguettes in abundance, enjoyed butter, steak, cream and
cheese in happy-go-lucky pre-animal fat anxiety days and slugged
Bordeaux regularly too.
This month we visit Turkey and Food
and Travel’s Joe Worthington takes us
on a tour of the underground cities of
he Central Anatolian region of Cappadocia is worldrenowned for its extensive tunnel and cave systems that
date back centuries, but while many tourists often only head
to the region to stay in one of several unique cave hotels or to take
a hot air balloon ride over the caves, there are whole underground
cities in Cappadocia just waiting to be discovered.
Throughout Cappadocia, in the town of Göreme and right across
Monks Valley, there are hundreds of distinctive “fairy chimneys”
that were once home to Bronze Age troglodyte cave settlers and
early Christian refugees escaping from persecution under the
Ancient Romans. The many settlers that have called Cappadocia’s
caves home over centuries have left their marks, with underground
churches, bedrooms carved into cliffs, and abandoned shops
lining pathways between the cave settlements. The underground
cities of Cappadocia are a spectacular sight and unlike anywhere
else in the region.
The whole region of Cappadocia is covered in a lunar-like white
powdery sand, the towering pointed mountains are littered with
holes big enough for a fully-grown person, and at sunset eerie
shadows are cast all around, following you like a ghost trying to
drag you deeper into the caves. It’s easy to mistake the cave and
tunnel system of Cappadocia as the set from a Star Wars movie,
especially at night when candle lights flicker inside the caves and
locals venture out in cloaks to keep warm.
Underneath these natural towers and caves there is a
subterranean world quite unlike anywhere else in the world. As
many as 20,000 residents called the town of Derinkuyu home,
a settlement built completely underground for locals to hide
away from potential foreign invaders. And in the 21st century,
these underground tunnel systems have found a new life, with
entrepreneurial locals using them to grow fruit and vegetables
in the nutrient-rich soils and away from the hot midday sun.
Cappadocia’s underground cities are once again proving their
worth to the region of Central Anatolia.
The settlement of Kaymakli dates back to the Hittite period, around
1600 BC, and was developed over the following centuries both
as a retreat from marauding tribes looking to capture Anatolia, but
This spread, clockwise: Rocky homes in the Cliff face of Nevsehir;
Yunak Evleri Cappadocia Hotel; Cappadocia scenery; Derinkuyu
underground city; Hotel cave room interior; Cappadocia suites.
also as somewhere for locals to live away from the unbearable
summer temperatures. Kaymakli’s underground town in the most
expansive in the region, spanning over 8 floors, with uniquely
designed ventilation shafts, and even places of worship. Kaymakli
really was a complete underground settlement.
The first floor of Kaymakli’s underground caves was used for
stables, where locals who lived in the tunnels would keep their
livestock. Each floor was connected to the next by steps carved
from the rock, and intricate archways were carved between
rooms. Remains of uniquely shaped wooden doors can still be
seen today.
On the third floor, perhaps the most important communal area
in the underground city, were the wineries and kitchens. As the
subterranean tunnels were used extensively throughout the Bronze
Age, there is extensive use of rocks and metal smelting to create
copper pans for use in cooking over large open fires. A block of
andesite rock with several holes can be seen in Kaymakli, into
which residents would have poured molten copper to create pots,
pans, cutlery, and plates.
On the fourth floor there is a number of inter-connected rooms
that would have been used as bedrooms and communal living
areas for the thousands of settlers who once called Kaymakli home.
Although only 4 of the 8 floors have been excavated and opened
to the public, the Bronze Age settlers of Kaymakli pioneered the
system of tower block living that we know today.
Derinkuyu is the deepest underground tunnel and cave system in
Cappadocia, and potentially the whole world. There are some 600
doorways hidden away in the gardens of houses leading deep
underground to a depth of 85 metres in some places. Just like
in Kaymakli, there were rooms dedicated to animal husbandry,
cooking, wine production, sleeping, education and worship.
Derinkuyu is located around 30 minutes outside of Göreme,
the most famous “fairy chimney” town in Turkey. Quite unique
for Derinkuyu, the ground floor of the underground city houses
excavation machinery, were able to dig these caves and tunnels and
make them last for future generations to discover. Cavernous rooms,
some as tall as two fully-grown adults, would most certainly have been
difficult to create, and this is what makes Derinkuyu underground city
one of the world’s most spectacular sights.
a cruciform plan church and a missionary school with individual
rooms set aside for lessons. Nearby there were also rooms for
holding the dead and discarded food and broken pottery until they
could be taken to the surface when conditions were safer.
There is also a huge bathhouse complete with towering ceilings
to allow steam to rise, and a system of shafts and false doors
that could be moved whenever necessary to trick invaders skilled
enough to find their way into Turkey’s subterranean world. It is
impossible to know whether these ancient tricks worked, but they
are impressive nonetheless.
Derinkuyu would have been a vast and impressive city above
ground, but underground it is more so. When you take the steep
steps down to the first floor of the hidden city, the first thing that comes
to mind is questions about how ancient Anatolians, without modern
In the town of NevĒehir, archaeologists have discovered one of
the world’s largest and best preserved underground churches.
The archaeologists working on the regeneration of NevĒehir Castle
were not expecting to discover a 360,000-square metre church
deep underneath, and most importantly, did not expect to find
preserved frescoes and wall paintings that shed some light on
Orthodox Christianity in the Anatolia region in the 5th century AD.
The cavernous ceiling and intricately carved walls of the church
have been painted with frescoes of the crucifixion of Jesus, the
Ascension to Heaven, and showing the faces of saints that have
long been forgotten. These paintings are some of the oldest
Christian paintings in the world, perhaps some of the oldest
displaying the key parts of Christian faith.
NevĒehir’s underground church shows that the settlers of
Cappadocia’s subterranean cities had everything that they needed
to lead their lives deep underneath the modern-day cities that we
know today.
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Unlike most places in the world, Turkey has not abandoned
its Bronze Age settlements completely, with the extensive
underground tunnel systems coming to life with the entrepreneurial
endeavours of locals living in the region.
The tunnel systems rarely get above 13 degrees Celsius, so they
are great for keeping fruit and vegetables fresh. In underground
underground church; Yunak Evleri Cappadocia hotel exterior; Yunak
Evleri Cappadocia hotel pool.
tunnels near Ortahisar, more than 6 metres of crates filled with
fresh lemons line the floor, being transported from Turkey’s
Mediterranean coast and stored for up to 4 weeks until they are
transported to markets in Europe, Russia, and further afield.
Cappadocia’s modern uses of the underground passageways
do not stop at lemon storage – thousands of tonnes of apples,
oranges, pears, potatoes, cabbages and cauliflowers are also
hidden right underground the feet of the thousands of locals and
visitors venturing to the region every year.
Tourists visiting Cappadocia who want to experience what it is like
living in the caves and tunnels of the region should really stay in
the Yunak Evleri Cappadocia hotel. The hotel truly is a magical
experience, with 7 full caves houses and 40 rooms carved into the
side of the mountains in the village of Urgup. Some of the carved
rooms date back to the 5th century AD, and the main building was
a 19th century Greek mansion.
Flickering lights illuminate roughly carved walkways between the
low carved bedroom doors, and natural shapes in the mountains
allow strips of light to flow through at sunrise and sunset, creating
heavenly glows right across the hotel compound. There is even a
heated outdoor swimming pool carved between the rocks.
The bedrooms are all uniquely decorated, some standard
rooms, some larger family rooms, and others full cave houses
available to rent. Naturally coloured walls, complete with striped
patterns that have emerged over centuries. There are marble floors
in each room, marble bathroom fittings, handcrafted lace curtains,
antique cupboards and tables, traditional bed coverings, antique
lights, and impressive kilim carpets. There is nowhere quite like
Yunak Evleri hotel, and there is nowhere else in the region where
you can live like locals once lived millennia ago.
Cappadocia is a special place to experience at any time of the
year. Underground tunnels offer a glimpse into a subterranean
life that has largely disappeared. Miles of tunnels link cities tens
of metres under the feet of modern Anatolia, connecting rooms
that were once filled to the top with wine and food, families eating
together around open fires, and people getting on with their lives
as wars were fought above ground.
The underground cities of Cappadocia may only be a tourist
attraction and place for storing food today, but the region has
many hidden and impressive secrets just waiting to be discovered.
Anna-Marie Dowling
Dowling brings over 25 years of
experience and first-hand knowledge
to The Westin and Le Méridien Bahrain
City Centre Hotels.
ahrain’s only female General Manager of a five-star hotel and
winner of a much-coveted Marriott Global Leadership Award,
brings over 25 years of experience and first-hand knowledge
to The Westin and Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre Hotels. “I came
into the international market a little later in my career.” said Dowling.
“I already had over 16 years as a General Manager at 5 star hotels
in the UK, and I thought that it was about time that I faced a new
challenge. I am delighted to have landed in Bahrain; it’s a great first
post for the Middle East – Bahrain is inclusive and friendly – people
reach out to you. I am loving my time here.” she concluded.
Dowling was always destined for the hospitality industry. “I was not
particularly academic and not taken with my studies. I was working
part-time as a waitress whilst I was studying for my A Levels, and
I discovered that I loved the work, and decided go to Catering
College and take a B-Tech in Diploma in Catering.” she recalled. “I
suppose I fell into the industry through my part time job; I but I saw
a clear route forward and I enjoyed the challenged, in fact I still do!”
added Dowling.
Clearly not someone who shies away from hard work, Dowling
started in housekeeping, working as a chamber maid for Holiday Inn
at Slough (near to Heathrow Airport in the UK) “I cleaned 15 rooms
a day for 9 months.” she notes. “And from there I joined the Holiday
Inn Management Training program.” Something that occupied
Dowling’s next 2½ years, working in every department from the
Front Desk and Concierge to Finance and Food and Beverage. “I
gained invaluable experience at the coal-face of the industry; an
experience to draw upon even today – so I have an empathy for
housekeeping and all the departments. I look back on this as a very
This spread, clockwise: Aerial view
of the pool at Le Meridien, Bahrain;
The Hub at Le Meridien, Bahrain
City Centre; The lobby at the Westin,
Bahrain City Centre; Anne-Marie
Words: Francesca Jackson Images: Marriott; Food & Travel
happy time.” she observed.
Over the coming years Dowling worked tirelessly learning her trade,
with time at Holiday Inn, Scandic, and Metropole Hotels, leading to
her first role as GM at the iconic five-star London Marriott County
Hall. “At that time, there was nothing else in the area – the London
Eye was just opening – but I had a marvellous few years watching
the metamorphosis of the area.” said Dowling. Her success was
noticed and Dowling became GM at another two iconic London
properties, the Meriden Piccadilly and Café Royale. After 5 years
with Meridien, Dowling decided for a change of pace and went to
Jersey, in the Channel Islands to join a small private 5-star hotel –
The Grand, on the Esplanade in St Helier. “I spent two wonderful
years there, but the owners decided to sell the property and I felt it
was probably time for a change.” commented Dowling.
After a 2-year stint as GM of Royal Horseguards Hotels in London
Dowling took a 10-month career break to re-charge her batteries
walks around the mall.” offered Dowling.
“The market in Bahrain is tough – the hotel business in London
is more transactional, whereas here it very much about relationship
management, making the personal touch even more important”
she stated. “There are some differences compared to the UK; the
market-cycles are shorter here, tending to change every 12-18
month, as consumers seek new concepts. There is a strong appetite
for eating out – and new openings are definitely well patronised, at
the weekend at least.”
Whilst technology is starting to play a larger part in the industry
and smart phones becoming more prevalent in our daily live, guests
can become less reliant on talking to people. “We try and track
people’s preferences – and deliver some little wow factors. Little
things like folding a towel into the shape of a shirt and laying their
tie on it. A nice touch that adds that little extra care for our guests.”
observes Dowling.
“Genuine customer service comes from the heart of our
associates wanting to do a good job”
before taking up the intense challenge of running an airport hotel –
as GM at Sofitel Heathrow. “Running a hotel is full-on, more so for
one directly connected to an airport terminal. Its non-stop 24 hours
a day.” she observed. “I knew after my 3rd year, I wanted something
different and decided to move to an International position – I initially
considered Asia but the Middle East had a greater appeal, as it is
easily accessible by air and just a few hours’ time difference from
the UK.”
There are different challenges in the Middle East “Here you are
responsible for the total welfare of all your staff, from where they live,
what they eat, and how they get work – in addition to the time when
they are at work. Quite different from London. However, the Marriott
Total Welfare program for our staff ensures that we look after every
aspect of their well-being. We run programs such as Breast Cancer
awareness, Step-up Challenge, getting people to exercise –with
However, a successful hotel is driven by its team, and great
customer care. “Genuine customer service comes from the heart of
our associates wanting to do a good job.” Dowling begins. “When
things go wrong – which can happen – you need to fix them quickly.
People are quite forgiving if you take the initiative. We achieve this by
good training and encouraging our associates to take responsibility
and act appropriately to provide the guest with a solution. This
has never been more important since the advent of Social Media,
bloggers and sites such as Trip Advisor.” she concluded.
“The Middle East market is a little more demanding than some,
but the expectations of the clients remain the same – they expect
value for what they are paying.” noted Dowling.
There is no doubt that Le Meriden and Westin guests
are in good hands.
The Rock
Gibraltar has seen civilisations come
and go for tens of thousands of years,
leaving behind unique architecture,
attractions, and myths unlike
anywhere else. The territory truly is
where history meets.
he pint-sized British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, located at
the most southerly tip of Europe, has a heritage quite unlike
anywhere else in the world. The strategic position of the
territory, directly opposite the Moroccan port of Tangier, has meant
that Gibraltar has been hotly contested for almost 120,000 years.
The first Neanderthal skull ever was discovered in Gibraltar, as were
Ancient Greek coins, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Spanish,
Moorish, and Dutch ruins and ships, and now British architecture.
Today, Gibraltar is a tourist hotspot for travellers from every corner
of the world, visiting the myriad of historic attractions that each tell
their own tales of how they contributed to the development of this
southern European port settlement. Around every corner, down the
main street, along the harbour, up the winding streets around the
towering rock of Gibraltar, and on the road that crosses the airport
runway, the ghosts of history roam.
Colourful and exciting ceremonies take place like they have for
centuries, Moorish bathhouses stand in the spots where they were
built more than 600 years ago, and caves line the shoreline that
once sheltered weary Phoenician and Carthaginian sailors worried
that if they travelled any further they would fall off the edge of the
earth. Although small, Gibraltar has played an important role in the
history of Europe and the Arab world.
Also look out for the typically British red telephone boxes and
post boxes, and read the street signs that tell the stories of why they
got the names they have. For example, ‘Main Street’ was given this
name because it is the main street that passes through Gibraltar,
‘Lynch’s Lane’ commemorates an 18th century merchant called
Peter Lynch, who had several businesses in Gibraltar, and ‘Engineer
Lane’ because the Commander of the Royal Engineers regiment
once lived on this street.
Perhaps one of the most evident legacies of all civilisations who
once called Gibraltar home, the Moorish history and myths are
the most intriguing. Over 1,300 years ago, Berber ruler Tarik ibn
Zeyad crossed the Strait of Gibraltar with his heavily armed ships
and conquered a sparsely populated rock that he named JebelTarik (translated into English as Tarik’s Mountain). It was from this
point that the strategic importance of the rock of Gibraltar became
known, and the Moors have left behind countless architectural
gems just waiting to be discovered.
The Muslim conquest of Spain started in Gibraltar, and over
Getting to Gibraltar
Winston Churchill Avenue, one of the main roads that connects
the sea front to the north of the territory, is a unique phenomenon
in Europe. The road crosses Gibraltar Airport’s runway, so you
can get a front seat view of flights taking off and landing when
you stop at the road barrier.
Gibraltar International Airport is a relatively small airport,
mainly connecting to British airports, with British Airways flights
to London Heathrow and easyJet flights to London Gatwick,
Manchester and Bristol. There are also several flights each week
to Tangier and Casablanca in Morocco with Royal Air Maroc
As a coastal town, Gibraltar is heavily reliant on its port, with
several cruise ships calling at the Port of Gibraltar every week.
There is also a marina with regular trips out to sea and visits by
some of the world’s most luxurious yachts.
Gibraltar is a haven of history, telling the story of centuries
of European history. Its natural sights, historical attractions, and
furry residents make this a unique and unforgettable destination.
Gibraltar is Britain in the sun.
This spread, left to right: Gibraltar; Mosque; Wildlife; The Great Seige tunnels.
400 years, despite several skirmishes between Muslim and
Christian armies, the territory was turned into a grand fortress that
many thought could never be infiltrated. One of the most striking
attractions, with some of the most spectacular views in southern
Europe, is the Moorish Castle compound, a medieval fortification
comprising several buildings, gates, towers, and heavily fortified
The domineering white and yellow sand coloured Tower of
Homage is the tallest Islamic tower in Europe and the Kasbah
building is the largest in the area. Not only is the tower an important
factor in Moorish Europe, it also offers views right across Gibraltar,
best-preserved Moorish bathhouses in Europe. The Romanesque
baths was built in the 14th century as a place for Islamic settlers to
cleanse themselves, but today is no less impressive than it once
would have been. The central chamber, with its 16-sided vaulted
roof, is impressive, and the dimly lit archways and columns cast
shadows that could easily be mistaken as the ghosts of Moorish
warriors bathing away their sorrows.
As Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, and has been since 1704
when a joint Anglo-Dutch naval force liberated the town, there are
“There are impressions dented into the soft stone walls that were made by
the cannonballs of invading forces trying to push the Moors and then the
British out of the territory.”
out to the port and busy sea lanes, and into Spain in the north.
Defences and batteries line the top of the castle, with heavy
metal cannons facing out to sea in preparation for invasions, and
legendary Macaque monkeys can be seen climbing and swinging
on the walls. There are impressions dented into the soft stone walls
that were made by the cannonballs of invading forces trying to push
the Moors out of the territory.
Just off the main street, opposite the Cathedral of St. Mary the
Crowned, the basement of Gibraltar Museum is home to one of the
many typically English traditions that take place throughout the year,
and some of Gibraltar’s most famous landmarks could easily be
mistaken for those on a street in central London.
The Convent building, located at the southern end of Main Street,
has been home to the British Governor of the territory since 1728,
before which it was a convent for Franciscan Friars since 1531. The
palatial terracotta-orange building, complete with a grand covered
entrance and large sash windows is an impressive sight. A few
days a week a guard mount ceremony takes place, with soldiers
Where to stay
The Rock Hotel is as synonymous with Gibraltar as its
namesake, the rock of Gibraltar. The hotel is situated at the
foothills of the rock of Gibraltar, offering spectacular views
over the territory, out to sea, and further afield to Spain in
the north. The hotel was built in 1932 and has welcomed
world famous politicians and celebrities throughout its history,
including former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill,
actors Errol Flynn, Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery, as well as
Beatles singer John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono.
The hotel offers a typical English afternoon tea, which is
another link to its British roots. In the Lounge Bar guests
can choose to drink Earl Grey, Darjeeling, or fruit and herbal
teas from Ahmad Teas of London, and savour a selection of
sandwiches, cakes and home-made scones with jam and
of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment in their red coats and white helmets
standing guard at the front of the building.
Several times a year, a typically British military ceremony takes
place outside of The Convent building. The changing of the guard
ceremony sees soldiers marching in unison along Main Street,
accompanied by trumpets and drums. There are few places in
the world where you can witness a British changing of the guard
ceremony and be guaranteed warm and sunny weather – but in
Gibraltar that is just what you will find!
Next to The Convent building is King’s Chapel, a white square
Church of England chapel that was once badly damaged by an
explosion of a munitions ship in the late 18th century. Today, the
semi-domed cavernous ceiling glows from the chandelier lights and
the reflection from the sun shining though the large arched windows.
The Convent building is believed by some to be haunted by the
ghost of a nun known as “Lady in Grey”. The ghost is said to wander
the corridor outside of the guest room, where visiting dignitaries sleep,
where she was walled in centuries ago. Legend suggests that the
daughter of a wealthy Spanish nobleman married against her father’s
wishes, so he forced her to join the Convent of Santa Clara, whose
building can be seen on Main Street. The woman’s husband joined
the Franciscan Order, based in The Convent building, to be close
to her and to plan their escape. The woman tried to escape one
night but was captured, and as a punishment, she was walled up
alive inside the guest room, where she died. Several Governors have
reported seeing the ghostly figure of a woman walking the corridors
and disappearing.
Under the streets of Gibraltar and inside its famous rock, there
is a warren of hidden tunnels that were excavated by the British
between the 18th and 20th centuries. Tunnelling first began in 1782
during the Great Siege to provide somewhere for British soldiers
to hide from attack, and somewhere to store food, munitions,
and to provide easy access for secret communications between
messengers watching the Strait of Gibraltar for enemy ships and the
military headquarters further inland.
Another legend that has been disproven, but many still believe is
true, is the existence of a tunnel deep under the Strait of Gibraltar,
connecting Gibraltar to Cap Spartel near Tangier in Morocco.
Roman god and hero Hercules supposedly stayed in the Caves
of Hercules on the north Moroccan coast and built a bottomless
tunnel to Gibraltar, coming out at St. Michael’s Cave, a 300-metretall multi-coloured cave that is visited by more than 1 million visitors
every year. The cave is just one of 150 inside the rock of Gibraltar.
Today, visitors can go on guided tours deep into the rock of
Words by: Joe Worthington. Photos by: iStock; Gibraltar Tourism; F&T
“St. Michael’s Cave is a 300-metre high multi-coloured cavern that is
visited by more than 1 million visitors every year.”
This spread, left to right: Airport main highway; Cable car; The Rock
Hotel; World War 2 Tunnels; Moorish Castle.
Gibraltar, following in the footsteps of the thousands of British
soldiers who once spent days at a time hiding and living inside.
At the start of the Second World War, the civilian population was
evacuated, and the tunnels were expanded to house troops
escaping from aerial bombardment. You need to book in advance
for tunnel tours, but clambering through the dimly lit underground
hideaways, which are large enough to house 16,000 soldiers and
16 months of food, a bakery, a hospital, a vehicle maintenance
workshop, communications room, and water distillation plant, is an
experience unlike any other.
Perhaps the most peculiar attraction in Gibraltar is the large 300-strong
colony of wild Barbary Macaque monkeys. It is thought that the cheeky
monkeys first arrived in Gibraltar during the Moorish period, and they
have thrived in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, at the top of Gibraltar’s
famous 426 metre rock at the centre of the territory.
A popular legend that has existed for more than a century holds
that if the monkeys leave the rock, then British rule in Gibraltar will
end. During the Second World War, when the monkey population
fell to just seven monkeys, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
ordered that more monkeys be taken from Morocco and Algeria to
replenish the numbers on the rock. Whether this legend is true or
not, locals take it seriously and take good care of their monkeys.
The views from across Gibraltar are spectacular, but from 412
metres above ground on the cable car they are simply unforgettable.
The cable car takes just six minutes to travel from the ground station
at the southern end of Main Street to the Top Station on the rock of
Gibraltar. From the cable cars you can see two continents, Europe
and Africa, three countries, and two bodies of water.
The Top Station is the perfect launching point for exploring the
nature reserve, St. Michael’s Cave, the Great Siege Tunnels, and
the Moorish Castle. Most of Gibraltar’s famous monkeys also live at
the top of the rock, so you are never more than six minutes away
from meeting the territory’s most famous residents – just be careful
as they can be unpredictable, and are expert pickpockets!
will be the first to admit that my skills in the kitchen leave a lot
to be desired. So the thought of attending a cookery class with
a chef who has trained in multiple Michelin star restaurants was
a little daunting. Nevertheless, I made my way to Fairmont The
Palm with the hope I could channel my inner Heston for just one
evening at least. I was immediately put at ease by chef Romain
van Durmen. The 30-year-old may have cut his teeth in some of
the finest restaurants and toughest kitchens in Belgium, but he
is more than at home in his role as host and teacher. He was
quick to make us feel comfortable as he delivered a brief
introduction to our evening. Throughout the next three hours we
would be cooking a main course and a dessert, while Romain
would also make a small starter as we attempted to recreate his
dishes. This was all taking place in the superbly designed studio
in which Chef’s Palette takes place; housed next door to Flow
Kitchen. There are four spacious work stations with all the
equipment you could ever need, a long wooden table that seats
up to 12 people; and it is here you get to sample the fruits of your
labour. Then at the front there is a cooking station where Romain
showcases his skills, which can also be viewed on a big screen
hanging from the ceiling.
Once the introductions were out of the way, it was down to the
task of cooking. First up was learning how to make classic Italian
tiramisu. While Romain took us through the process, which he of
course made look very simple, all of the ingredients and every
kitchen aid we needed were set up by the Chef’s Palette team.
Even though the starter is largely prepared by the chef, there
is a chance to be hands on for those who want to learn a bit
more. While a cream of mushroom soup had already been
Words: Adrian Back Images: Fairmont
made, I was tasked with searing the scallops. With the expert
eye of Romain watching over, these were then plated by the
class and we sat down to enjoy the first course. The dish was
expertly balanced with the creamy scallops pairing perfectly with
the zesty tomato and flavourful mushroom.
After a round of drinks and enjoyable conversation it was onto
the main, which meant making our own pasta and learning how
to take apart a cooked lobster. Again, Romain delivered an
expert presentation and broke the process down to simple
steps. Next, we weighed our ingredients for the pasta. By this
point my apron was covered in flour and my confidence was
growing. Romain was again on hand with words of advice and
encouragement and before too long I had made several portions
of tagliatelle.
After de-shelling the lobster and cooking the pasta, both were
covered in a creamy bisque and saffron nage that had been
made by the chef. Then it was once again time to sit down and
enjoy our creations. The lobster simply melted in my mouth.
By the time the evening had come to a close I not only had a
better appreciation for how food is prepared in a top kitchen, but
I was genuinely interested in testing out what I had learnt back at
home. This was in no short measure down to the chef’s love of
cooking, which is infectious, but also the informal atmosphere
that has been created at Chef’s Palette. As a novice it was a
great introduction to cooking and the fact that the class can be
tailored to a group or individual’s level makes it even more
appealing. So whether you want to be hands on or simply watch
a top chef in action, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Where to
This month we find Michelin plates on
high in Berlin, theatrical American in
London’s West End, a bunch of
brunches and some Italian cheer
The ultimate family brunch Dubai
our weekend in Dubai isn’t complete without the perfect
brunch getaway. The ‘Ultimate Family Friday Brunch’ at
Fairmont the Palm’s Flow Kitchen is the ideal place for a
relaxing family meal. Chill out while the kids enjoy a special package
that includes a brunch with a selection of healthy treats and two
hours of interactive activities including the chance to take a picture
with their favourite cartoon character, face painting, balloon twisting
and arts & crafts. Or enjoy the VIP Brunch experience at The Chef’s
Palette. A dedicated personal chef and steward will provide you
with specialty cocktails and additional signature dishes such as pan
seared foie gras, fresh oysters with caviar and smoked wagyu short
ribs. Brunch is served at the Beach Level, from 12:30pm – 3:30pm
every Friday. Prices start at $85pp for the ‘Ultimate Family Friday
Brunch’ and $165pp for the VIP Brunch experience at The Chef’s
Palette. For more information and bookings call +971 4 457 3457 or visit
Joe Allen Covent Garden London
As the ‘West End’s Canteen’ raises the curtain on a new era, we find out
that it’s worthy of an encore. There was outcry from regulars when it was
revealed that Theatreland institution Joe Allen was to be uprooted from
its Exeter Street home to make way for Robert De Niro’s new boutique
hotel, The Wellington. Since 1977 the beloved American brasserie has
been drawing in luvvies, who came for diner classics done with panache
and stayed for the air kisses that followed. This was the place to see and
be seen in the Eighties and Nineties and as curtains fell across town,
jobbing thesps and A-listers alike skipped off to its convivial dining room
for post-show libations and an excellent Caesar salad. Its nickname, the
West End’s Canteen, since stuck.
It all started in 1965, when the eponymous Mr Allen launched the
original site on New York’s 46th Street. Rip-roaring good times were
a given and Allen recreated this vibe in the West End. Pianist Jimmy
Hardwick tinkled the ivories and raised spirits while guests raised their
glasses. Many of the London staff have been in situ for more than 20
years – and they’re not all out-of-work actors – both Jeremy King (of
The Wolseley) and Polpo’s Russell Norman cut their teeth here.
Unperturbed by the need to relocate, current owners Tim Healy and
Lawrence Hartley embarked upon a brick-by-brick replica of the dining
room a stone’s throw away. The new Joe’s made its debut in September;
while it’s no longer a basement haunt, the red brick, paparazzi-snaps and
theatre paraphernalia – even the rickety chairs – stand as they always
have. But did it take its soul with it? Our visit falls on a chilly Tuesday
night, and as the curtain lifts expectations are high. The menu is a roll
call of classic Americana. Things you really want to eat: steaks, lobster
rolls, hot dogs with hickory mustard, and glazed ribs. Chicken parmigiana
transports us to Little Italy, but it’s the off-menu JA burger that we
are most keen to try. Known only to those who know, the stalwart of
American dining was left off the original menu to limit any association
with the first McDonald’s that hit Britain just before Joe’s. It is succulent,
savoury goodness made with high-grade beef. When dessert is served
alongside one of its classic cocktails and the atmosphere cranks up, it’s
clear one of London’s oldest chums is still breaking a leg. BG.
+44 20 7836 0651,
Tried & Tasted
G lobal Gourmet
SkyKitchen BERLIN
On the 13th floor of the stylish Vienna House Andel’s Berlin hotel, towering high
above the rooftops of the German capital, the city’s youngest Michelin-starred
chef Alexander Koppe creates ultramodern interpretations of classic European
dishes. A master of his craft, his ethos is to spice up quality local ingredients with
a pinch of international influence to create a culinary journey around the globe.
Expect to explore many facets of flavour over Koppe’s 11-course menu.
Scallops with aloe vera, cucumber and nori enliven your taste buds and lead
on to tender beef dressed with caviar, black radish and shiso plum.
Midway, peanut- and curry-infused
Ibérico hock is as succulent as it is tasty.
‘Fruit of the Gods’ – blood orange, pomelo and kumquat cleanses the palate,
preparing it for gutsy venison with rowan berries. When it comes to dessert,
apple strudel features contemporary notes of hay for a twist on a local favourite.
Afterwards, a digestif should be quaffed at Skybar on the 14th floor where the
drinks list shines as brightly as the city below. SW. +49 30 453 053 2620,
DIFC’s newest brunch takes you on a culinary voyage of discovery with 7Elephants
Friday Brunch. Enjoy the signature plates from the 7 traders: Indian, Balinese,
Arabic, British, Italian, Spanish and Mexican. It’s an east meets west explosion of
flavours from different nations covering some of the biggest culinary capitals of the
world. From the iconic tapas platter and signature Middle Eastern dishes, to the
sultry character of classic tacos topped off with sinful sweets. Dubai is a melting
pot of different nations and the kitchen team headed by Chef Mahmoud Turkmani
complimented by the highly skilled bartenders behind the 35M long bar are ready
to give you an equally diverse brunch experience best enjoyed with friends, families,
and even the little ones. Take the opportunity to relax in the more temperate
seasonal weather on their terrace as you savour delicious food paired with specialty
cocktails and premium bubblies. As the sun goes down, spend a little more time on
the market floor with the After Brunch Unlimited drinks from 4pm-7pm. Whether
you choose to sit comfortably on the cosy terrace couch or at the trendy dining
table set-up, favour one cuisine or drink choice over the other, there is something
for every discerning palate. Brunch is served from 12 noon – 4pm; prices start
from $55pp incl. soft drinks; kids 8-15 $35pp and kids under 8 eat for free. For
more information contact +971 435 44354 or
Brunch at the Palace Abu Dhabi
There are a few things you simply must do in Abu Dhabi, and Brunch at the
Palace is one of them. Brunch begins with a vast selection of appetisers.
Once your taste-buds has been piqued, visit the vast array of live cooking
stations, the BBQ grill, pasta counter, traditional tandoori and shawarma
stations followed by a delicious selection of sweet treats. Add to that an
exclusive caviar-tasting happy hour from 1pm-2pm, live entertainment,
and kids’ zone, and you have the makings for a perfect afternoon. Aside
from the fabulous food, the setting is ideal for chilling out, catching up and
soaking in the sun with friends and family. Brunch is served in Las Brisa,
every Friday from 12:30pm – 4pm. Prices start at $99pp Kids under 10
dine for free and kids between 10-12 at $49pp. Pool and beach access is
not included. For more information +971 2 690 7999 email restaurants@ or visit
Places to
This month, we check out a redesign in Phuket, go colonial luxe in New Delhi,
get cosy in the Cotswolds, and dine in the ultimate gourmet escape
Mandarin Oriental HONG KONG
That Hong Kong has a style of its own is indisputable; a city that has
its own chic-style that demands reverence for not only the magnificent
architecture of the myriad of soaring steel and glass edifices that give Hong
Kong its recognisable skyline but the unbridled passion and dedication
that permeates throughout the very ether that is an integral part of the
heritage and underlying essence that is Hong Kong.What better way to
experience one of the greatest cities in the world than to stay at one of its
greatest hotels – The Mandarin Oriental, renowned for unabashed luxury,
outstanding service, attention to detail and a dedication to gastronomy, this
award-winning legend has become a Hong Kong institution in its own right;
the beating heart of the City for over half a century. Located in Hong Kong’s
Central district the Mandarin Oriental provides access to the territory’s finest
shopping, entertainment, restaurants and cultural spots; and is conveniently
connected to Central’s premier addresses via a series of air-conditioned
The elegant style of the Mandarin Oriental perfectly balances the Yin and
Yang of sumptuous traditional Asian inspired décor with a contemporary
essence that embraces the latest in materials and technology. The use of
natural wood, marble and stone, mosaics, soft fabrics, comfortable beds,
duck-down pillows and deep plush furniture, set to a warm natural palette,
provide a luxury home-from-home.
The Mandarin Oriental offers a truly spectacular array of dining
experiences, with not one but three Michelin-starred restaurants amongst
its ten bars and restaurants; from the delights of all-day dining at Café
Causette in the Clipper Lounge and traditional English fare at The Chinnery
to the gourmand Michelin experiences of superlative French cuisine at
Pierre, classic Cantonese delicacies at Man Wah and modern grill classics
at Mandarin Grill + Bar.
Whether you are visiting for a business trip, a shopping safari or a
romantic week-end the Mandarin Oriental provides for your every need;
sophisticated restaurants, casual dining, lively bars, a relaxing spa, and
above all else that legendary Mandarin Oriental style and first-class service.
Doubles from $495.
Tried & Tasted
There are few things better than a restorative countryside escape,
and few better places to get ensconced than this historic hotel in
the Cotswolds. Fresh off the back of a revamp, the 16th-century inn
is every bit a British affair – previous guests include King Charles I,
Oliver Cromwell and Evelyn Waugh – though the modern- luxe design
brings it up to date. Low-slung original beams frame labyrinthine
snugs filled with log fires and plush velvet sofas made for soothing
afternoons over the weekend’s papers. MS. Doubles from $310.
Don’t panic if you let out a little gasp as you enter this imposing hotel. Designed
to replicate Edwin Lutyens’ colonial India, it is opulence on the grandest scale.
Think huge chandeliers, lavish furniture, precious metals adorning every table
and an astonishing 14,000 fresh flowers delivered every day. However, it’s not
a case of waste not, want not. The blooms are donated to an NGO and used to
make dye for the annual Holi festival.
There are 254 palatial guest rooms and suites, all with opulent decor. Suites
come with butler service, access to the exclusive Royal Club Lounge and larger
suites with private plunge pools. Once you’ve picked your jaw up, take a dip in
the rooftop infinity pool, a welcome reprieve from the steamy city. Located in the
upmarket Chanakyapuri district near the park-filled neighbourhood known as
Diplomatic Enclave, it’s full of well-heeled holidayers and businessmen.
Its five dining options play perfectly to its clientele. There are outposts of
New York’s Le Cirque and Megu, plus its signature restaurant Jamavar also
has a Michelin-starred outpost in London. Savour dishes such as gosht ki
nihari (Awadhi lamb delicacy lightly flavoured with saffron) and daal Jamavar
(lentils with tomatoes and cream). After dinner, retire to The Library bar, with its
extensive whisky menu and Indian-spiced cocktails such as a chicory marsala
martini. AD. Doubles from $285.
Like a grain of sand’s transformation into a thing of beauty at
the bottom of the ocean, the Na-Ranong family-owned recently
refurbished and renamed hotel The Slate (formally Indigo Pearl)
has evolved from a slightly ugly duckling into a swan. The
design-led hotel tastefully recalls the area’s tin-mining past
with all manner of defunct machinery adorning its reception
area, as well as making appearances throughout the hotel’s
grounds. It’s miles away from the bland international feel of so
many resort hotels and is great fun for the kids, but some of
the more brutalist bedrooms with their brushed-concrete finish
would benefit from being given a slightly softer touch.
It’s a sizeable hotel with 177 rooms and certain pools are
reserved for adults only, but the real star attraction is the
signature restaurant Black Ginger, run by talented Chef Piak,
which makes this hotel worth the stay alone. Reaching this
domain is via a rope-pulled raft across a softly lit lagoon,
adding to the theatre of the experience. The traditional Thai
cuisine draws from different regions of the country but with
an emphasis on Chef Piak’s southern Thai roots. Dishes such
as gaeng poo bai cha ploo (southern style crab curry), som
tam (green papaya salad) and poh pia sod (roll-your-own riceflour pancakes) are elevated from their street food roots into
Michelin-grade plates. GR. Doubles from $380.
For better-tasting food and your own peace of mind, use sustainably and locally produced ingredients if possible. Eggs should always be free-range.
1 teaspoon is 5ml; 1 tablespoon is 15ml
PAGES 20-24
Rosemary and parmesan
seeded oatcakes with
rosemary-infused olive oil
200ml olive oil
8 rosemary sprigs
120g rolled oats
65g pumpkin seeds
95g walnuts
70g sunflower seeds
30g parmesan, finely grated
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. water
Labneh or mozzarella, to serve
Pour the olive oil into a small
saucepan and add 5 rosemary
sprigs. Set the pan over a low heat
and cook for 5 minutes. Remove
from the heat and leave to cool
completely then transfer to a bottle
and keep in the fridge until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line
a baking tray with baking paper.
Pick the leaves from the remaining
rosemary sprigs and finely chop.
Tip the oats into a large bowl. Put
the pumpkin seeds, walnuts and
sunflower seeds in a blender and
blitz until the mixture resembles
breadcrumbs. Add to the bowl with
the oats.
Season the mixture generously
and add the parmesan, rosemary,
baking powder, beaten egg and
water. Stir to bring the mixture
together, adding a little more water
if necessary. Transfer to the lined
baking tray, then place another
sheet of baking paper on top. Use
a rolling pin to flatten the mixture
to approximately 0.5cm thick.
Remove the top piece of baking
paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until
crisp and golden. Leave to cool
completely, then break into shards.
Serve with the rosemary-infused oil
and labneh or mozzarella.
Kimchi chicken kebabs
with Napa cabbage salad
and ginger dressing
3 skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp. kimchi (homemade or
4 cm piece ginger, finely
½ garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
150g Napa cabbage, shredded
100g red cabbage, shredded
4 breakfast radishes, thinly
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 green apple, thinly sliced
½ bunch coriander, leaves
picked and chopped
½ tbsp. black sesame seeds
½ tbsp. white sesame seeds
Dice the chicken into bite-sized
pieces and put in bowl. Add
the kimchi and mix well to coat.
Leave to marinate in the fridge for
3-4 hours. Put the ginger, garlic,
lemon juice, caster sugar and rice
vinegar in a small bowl and stir
together. Gradually whisk in the
olive and sesame oil. Season and
set aside. Put the Napa and red
cabbage in a bowl. Add the radish,
spring onion, apple and coriander
and mix well. Pour over half the
dressing and turn to coat. Thread
the chicken pieces onto metal
skewers. Set a griddle pan with 1
tbsp. olive oil over a high heat. Add
the skewers to the pan and cook,
in batches if necessary, for 3-4
minutes on each side until lightly
charred and cooked through.
Serve the chicken skewers with
the Napa cabbage salad and the
extra dressing on the side.
PAGES 32-39
50g caster sugar
5g fine salt
5g ascorbic acid
500g courgettes
Savoury porridge with soy
and honey-braised bok choy
and jammy boiled eggs
Quick kimchi
1 medium Napa cabbage, outer
leaves removed
1 ½ tbsp. caster sugar
3 cm piece ginger, crushed
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. sriracha sauce
1 carrot, sliced
1 daikon or white radish, sliced
4 spring onions, finely chopped
Shred the cabbage into thin
strips and transfer to a large bowl.
Sprinkle generously with salt,
add half the sugar and mix really
well. Set aside for at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile put the ginger, garlic,
rice vinegar, fish sauce, sriracha
and remaining sugar in a blender
and blitz. Squeeze any excess
water from the salted cabbage
and transfer to a clean bowl. Add
the carrot, white radish and spring
onions, then stir in the sriracha
paste. Mix really well to coat.
Serve immediately or transfer to a
sterilised jar and keep in the fridge
for up to two weeks
4 eggs
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
220g porridge oats
350ml milk
100ml water
2 heads bok choy, split in half
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. black sesame seeds
1 red chill, finely sliced
Bring a large pan of salted water
to the boil, add the eggs and boil
for 6 ½ minutes. Remove from
the pan with a slotted spoon and
transfer to a bowl of iced water.
Leave to cool until just warm then
carefully peel the eggs. Set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in saucepan
over a medium-low heat. Add the
chopped shallot and cook for 3-4
minutes, until softened. Tip in the
oats, stirring to coat. Pour in the
milk and season with salt. Bring to
the boil then reduce the heat to a
simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes,
stirring often to prevent the mixture
from catching. Set a frying pan
over a high heat. Put the bok choy
and garlic in a bowl and drizzle with
the remaining oil, soy sauce and
honey. When you can feel a strong
heat rising from the pan add the
bok choy and cook for 3-4 minutes
until tender. Drizzle with any of the
honey-soy mixture left in the bowl.
Divide the porridge between serving
bowls and top with the braised boy
choy. Add a soft-boiled egg to each
bowl and scatter with the sesame
seeds and chilli.
Jasmine rice, marmite and
Put the vinegar, caster sugar, salt
and ascorbic acid in a saucepan
over a high heat and bring to the
boil. Leave to cool completely. Slice
the courgettes lengthways into
long 1mm thick strips – a mandolin
is the easiest way to do this. Lay
the courgette strips over the base
of a large shallow dish. Pour over
the cooled liquid, making sure the
courgette strips are completely
covered. Leave to marinate for three
hours in the fridge.
Jasmine rice puree
100g jasmine rice
1 litre mineral water
2 x gelatine sheets
100g Marmite
15 agar-agar
2g fine salt
2 x N20 Cream Whipper Chargers
Wash the rice, drain and put in a large
saucepan. Cover with 1 litre mineral
water and bring to the boil. Reduce to
a simmer and cook for 30 minutes,
until the grains are starting to break
up. Drain well. Soak the gelatine
leaves in iced water for 5 minutes until
soft. Remove and squeeze to get
rid of the excess water. Put the rice,
marmite, salt and gelatine leaves in a
blender and blitz until smooth. Pour
into a shallow tray or dish and leave
to cool. Once cool, whisk in the agaragar and pour into a deep saucepan.
Set the saucepan over a high heat
and bring almost to the boil, stirring
constantly to prevent catching. Return
the mixture to the blender and blend
for 30 seconds. Cool completely,
then blend again. Strain the mixture
through a fine sieve and pour into a
cream whipper canister. Add two gas
chargers, shake well and set aside for
30 minutes.
Pickled courgettes
100g white grape vinegar
Marmite job’s tears
50g job’s tears (also known as
coix seed or Chinese pearl barley)
50g marmite
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Wash the seeds then tip into a
saucepan and cover with 1 litre
water. Bring to the boil, then reduce
the heat and cook for 45 -50
minutes, until softened. Drain well.
Heat the oven to 75°C. Spread
the drained seeds out on a baking
tray. Transfer to the oven and leave
to dry out for 24 hours, until fully
dehydrated. Put the Marmite in a
large saucepan with 50g water,
mix well and warm through over a
low heat. Fill a deep, heavy-based
saucepan three-quarters full with oil
and heat to 220°C. Carefully add
the seeds to the oil and fry for 15
seconds until they puff up. Remove
with a slotted spoon and transfer to
the Marmite mixture. Stir well to coat.
Spread the seeds out on a baking
tray and return to the 75°C oven for
60 minutes, until the Marmite has
dried out and is no longer sticky.
To serve
Roll seven courgette strips per
portion into cylinder shapes and
arrange on plates. Add a few job’s
tears to the base of each one, then
fill with the jasmine rice puree. Scatter
with more job’s tears and serve.
Snails, garlic shoots and
Snails and garlic butter
500g snail meat
60g fine salt
500ml white grape vinegar
1 litre mineral water
1 head fennel, cut into 2cm dice
2 carrots, cut into 2cm dice
1 onion, cut into 2cm dice
2 celery sticks, cut into 2cm
2 bay leaves, cut into 2cm dice
200g unsalted butter
40g garlic, crushed
100g parsley, leaves picked and
finely chopped
Put the snail meat in a shallow
dish, cover with 50g salt, turn to
coat and leave for 30 minutes.
Rinse the snail meat well to
remove the salt. Place in a
saucepan and cover with the white
grape vinegar. Set aside for 1 hour.
Put the snail meat in a saucepan,
cover with water and bring to
the boil. Drain, leave to cool and
repeat this process twice more.
Add the remaining salt,
vegetables and bay leaves to the
snail cooking water, bring to the
boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and leave
to cool completely, then strain.
Combine the cooking water and
snails and pack into a vac-pac
bag. Cook in a water bath at 75°C
for six hours. Drain, reserving the
liquid and snails. Put the liquid in
a saucepan set over a high heat.
Reduce to 250ml. Add the butter
to make a soft emulsion, then
transfer to a bowl and cool to room
temperature – the consistency
should be soft and spreadable.
Stir in the garlic and parsley and
season. Stir in the cooled snails
and divide into portions (working
on a basis of two snails and a
spoonful of emulsion per portion).
Arrange on a baking tray and chill
in the fridge. Once chilled, roll into
ball shapes and freeze.
Brioche dough
10g yeast
55g caster sugar
80g full fat milk, warmed
570g strong bread flour, plus
extra for dusting
13g salt
90g unsalted butter, softened
5 whole medium-sized eggs
Mix the yeast, sugar and milk and
set aside for 5 minutes to come to
room temperature.
Put the flour and salt in an
electric stand mixer fitted with a
dough hook. Add the milk and
yeast mixture and beat for 3-4
minutes, then gradually add the
butter. Add the eggs one at a time,
mixing thoroughly between each
addition. Continue to mix until
the dough is smooth, glossy and
elastic. Tip out onto a floured work
surface and roll (don’t knead) into a
cylindrical loaf shape. Wrap in cling
film and chill for 12 hours. Remove
the chilled dough from the fridge
and divide into 15g pieces. Form
the pieces into flat disks with the
palm of your hand and chill once
again. Working one disk at a time,
with lightly floured hands wrap
a piece of dough around each
frozen snail as evenly as possible
– try not to let the dough soften
too much or the emulsion will leak
out. Pinch the edges of the dough
together to seal and remove any
excess dough with scissors.
Roll into an even spherical
shape and place on a baking
tray lined with baking parchment.
Repeat with the remaining dough
and snails and then freeze until
Garlic shoot emulsion
50g egg white
5g fine salt
20g white grape vinegar
300g rapeseed oil
50g spinach puree
50g garlic shoot juice
Put the egg white, salt and vinegar
in a bowl and blitz with a hand
blender until foamy.
Gradually add the egg white until
emulsified. Pour into a bowl and
fold in the and egg white, blend
until foamy then very gradually add
the rapeseed oil until emulsified. In
a bowl fold the emulsion together
with the spinach puree and garlic
shoot juice. Transfer to a squeezy
bottle and set aside.
To serve
Fill a deep, heavy-based saucepan
three-quarters full with oil and heat
to 180°C. Fry the snail doughnuts
for two minutes, then transfer to
an oven preheated to 180°C for 4
minutes. Put the same number of
dots of garlic shoot emulsion as
you are serving snail doughnuts on
serving plates. Place the snails on
top and serve.
Goats cheese, tamarind
and coriander seeds
Whipped goats cheese
300g soft goats’ cheese (rind
30g whipping cream
20g white grape vinegar
Break the goats’ cheese into rough
pieces and put in a food processor
with the double cream and white
grape vinegar. Blend until smooth,
then transfer to a piping bag.
Tamarind chutney (must be
prepared in advance)
800g tamarind
800ml mineral water
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
150g onion, diced
60g ginger grated
250g jaggery
250g malt vinegar
Bring 800ml water to the boil and add
the tamarind. Leave to soak for 30
minutes. Strain and pick through the
mixture to remove the seeds – you
will be left with a paste-like mixture.
Set a saucepan with 1 tbsp. oil
over a medium-low heat. Add the
onion and cook for 6-8 minutes,
until softened. Add the ginger and
jaggery, increase the heat slightly
and cook for 3-4 minutes, until
the jaggery caramelises. Pour over
the malt vinegar and cook until
reduced to a syrup, then stir in the
tamarind. Once thickened remove
the pan from the heat and pass the
mixture through a fine sieve. Store
in the fridge until needed.
dice the cucumber into 1cm
cubes and serve 5-7 pieces per
Coriander sponge crouton
100g toasted coriander seeds,
blitzed to a powder, plus extra
to garnish
80g isomalt
50g plain flour
7g fine salt
175g egg yolk
240g egg white
2 x NO2 Cream Whipper
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Coriander shoots, to serve
Put the coriander seeds, isomalt,
flour and salt in a blender and blitz.
Add the egg yolks and whites and
blend again. Strain the mixture
through a fine sieve and pour into
a cream whipper canister. Add
two gas chargers and shake well.
Pipe the mixture into small plastic
containers and microwave for 1
minute on full power. Remove
and break into 2-3cm pieces.
When you’re ready to serve, fill
a deep, heavy-based saucepan
three-quarters full with oil and heat
to 180°C. Fry the sponge for 30
seconds, until slightly crisp, then
transfer to a 180°C oven for a 3
minutes. Drain on kitchen paper.
To serve
Pipe three large dots of goats’
cheese onto each plate and
sprinkle with the reserved toasted
coriander seeds. Pipe smaller dots
of the tamarind chutney around the
cheese. Garnish with the sponge
croutons and finish by adding the
coriander shoots.
Shallot rings
2 medium banana shallots,
sliced into 1mm thick rings
50g plain flour
Fine salt
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
Fill a deep, heavy-based saucepan
three-quarters full with oil and
heat to 125°C or heat a deep fat
fryer to 125°C. Lightly coat the
shallot rings in the flour, shaking
to remove any excess. Carefully
drop the shallot rings into the hot
oil, making sure they don’t stick
together. Fry for 2 minutes, until
golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
Sprinkle with salt while still warm,
then leave to dry out in a warm
Roe deer tartare, charcoal
and Worcestershire sauce
Curing salt
600g roe deer shoulder
500g fine salt
500g caster sugar
70g Chinese five-spice
Remove all the sinew from the
roe deer shoulder and place in a
shallow dish or baking tray. Mix the
salt, sugar and five-spice together
and cover the meat completely.
Chill in the fridge for four hours.
Scrape off the salt sure and rinse
the meat in iced water. Place on a
wire rack and chill in the fridge for
four more hours. Cut the meat into
0.5cm cubes, allocating 50g meat
per portion. Place in a bowl and
keep in the fridge until needed.
Worcestershire sauce gel
650g Worcestershire sauce
350g mineral water
15g agar-agar
Put the Worcestershire sauce,
water and agar-agar in a saucepan
set over a high heat. Bring to the
boil, whisking constantly. Remove
from the heat and blitz well with a
hand blender. Pour into a shallow
tray and leave to set to a firm jelly
in the fridge. Once set, break into
pieces and blend again, being
careful not to over process the
mixture. Pass through a fine sieve
and transfer to a squeezy bottle.
Egg yolk confit
15 egg yolks
2g fine salt
Place the egg yolks in a vac pac
bag, seal and cook in a 75°C
water bath for 17 minutes.
Mix the salt and egg yolks
together and pass through a fine
sieve. Transfer to a piping bag and
chill in the fridge.
500g cucumbers
130g fine salt
450g mineral water
3 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 clove garlic
1 onion, sliced
20 black peppercorns
Put all the ingredients apart from
the cucumbers in a saucepan
and bring to the boil. Remove
from the heat and cool slightly. Put
the cucumbers in a full sealable
container, pour over the pickling
liquor and leave to marinate in the
fridge for four weeks. To serve,
Charcoal vinaigrette
250g pomace charcoal oil
(pomace olive infused with hot
50g white grape vinegar
Blend the oil and vinegar together
to emulsify. Transfer to a squeezy
bottle, leaving a 3cm gap at the
top as you will need to shake the
bottle to re-emulsify the mix just
before serving.
To serve:
40g chopped shallots, rinsed in
cold water
baby rocket cress
Mix the diced roe shoulder with the
chopped shallots. Drizzle with the
charcoal dressing and mix again,
then taste to check the seasoning.
Put a stainless steel ring or cutter
in the middle of six plates and
spoon equal amounts of the
roe deer shoulder into the rings,
pressing down lightly. Remove
the rings and add five dots each
of both Worcestershire sauce gel
and egg yolk confit around the
circle of roe deer. Arrange the
diced cornichons in the gaps and
garnish with the crispy shallot rings
and baby rocket cress.
80g egg yolks
50g caster sugar
40g water
60g egg whites
300g whipping cream
Gingerbread and lemon
Gingerbread and wafers
400g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
3 eggs
450g full fat milk
450g maple syrup
3 tsp baking soda
840g plain flour
8 tsp ground ginger
8 tsp ground cinnamon
In a dough mixer fitted with a
whisk attachment cream the butter
and sugar together until light and
fluffy, then add the eggs, milk
and syrup. Mix well. Fold in the
baking soda, flour, ginger and
cinnamon by hand. Divide the
mixture between two loaf tins lined
with baking parchment. Cook in an
oven preheated to 170°C for 30
minutes. Leave to cool completely,
then remove from the tins and chill
in the fridge for 12 hours. Very
finely slice one of the gingerbread
loaves into 1.5mm thick wafers.
Arrange the wafers on a baking
tray lined with baking paper and
then place another tray on top to
flatten. Set the other loaf aside and
use to make the parfait. Bake in a
180°C oven for 7-10 minutes until
crisp and dry.
Gingerbread parfait
8g gelatine leaves
200g gingerbread (see above)
200g whipping cream
Soak the gelatine leaves in iced
water for 5 minutes until soft.
Remove and squeeze to get
rid of the excess water. Blitz
the gingerbread to fine crumbs
in a food processor. Put the
gingerbread crumbs in a saucepan
with 200g whipping cream and
bring to the boil. Remove from
the heat and blitz with a hand
blender to make a smooth puree.
Whisk the egg yolks in a kitchen
stand mixer fitted with a whisk
attachment until pale and thick. At
the same time, put the sugar and
water in a saucepan and simmer
until the sugar dissolves. Increase
the heat until the mixture reaches
121°C on sugar thermometer (soft
ball stage). Leave to cool slightly.
Reduce the speed on the mixer
to the lowest setting and carefully
add the liquid sugar. Increase the
speed to medium and continue to
whisk until the base of the mixing
bowl has cooled. Transfer to a new
bowl. Clean and dry the bowl of
the kitchen stand mixer. Add the
egg whites and whip on full power
until light and fluffy. Meanwhile
whisk the remaining cream until
it is half whipped (ribbon stage).
Carefully add the whipped egg
yolks to the gingerbread puree,
followed by the egg whites, then
slowly fold in the cream, being
careful not to over over-whisk as
this will knock the air out. Pour
into 2 loaf tins lined with cling film
and freeze for 12 hours. Remove
the parfait from the tin and cut into
5mm slices. Arrange on a tray and
return to the freezer.
Lemon thyme sorbet
250g lemon juice
12g lemon thyme
150g sugar
35g glucose
300g mineral water
400g water
80g egg yolks
Put the lemon juice, lemon thyme,
100g sugar, the glucose and water
in a saucepan over a medium
heat. Bring to a simmer, then
remove from the heat. Whisk the
eggs and 50g water together in a
bowl suspended over a saucepan
of barely simmering water. At the
same time, put the sugar and
water in a saucepan and simmer
until the sugar dissolves. Increase
the heat until the mixture reaches
121°C on a sugar thermometer
(soft ball stage). Leave to cool
slightly. Once the eggs are light
and fluffy, gradually pour in the
liquid sugar. Remove the bowl from
the heat and continue to whisk
until cool. Gently fold in the lemon
syrup you made earlier and transfer
to a Paco Jet container. Freeze
for 12 hours. Just before serving,
churn the sorbet using a Paco Jet
machine, then return to the freezer.
Crystallised ginger
100g ginger
120g caster sugar
Peel the ginger and cut in to
3mm thick batons. Put in a small
saucepan, cover with water and
bring to the boil. Drain and repeat
this process three more times
using. Cut the ginger into dice and
put in a saucepan with the sugar.
Heat until sugar melts and reaches
120C. Remove the ginger pieces
with a fork and transfer to a tray
lined with baking parchment. Leave
to dry out at room temperature for
six hours
To serve
Layer the gingerbread slices and
parfait pieces together, starting
with the gingerbread, so that you
use four gingerbread slices and
three slices of parfait per portion.
Decorate with the crystallized
ginger. Add a scoop of sorbet to
each plate and garnish with lemon
thyme leaves and a little more
crystallized ginger.
Quinoa salad with feta,
pomegranates and charred
spring onions
200g quinoa, rinsed
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
5 tbsp. olive oil
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
2 tsp sumac
2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp. honey
150g feta, crumbled
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
½ bunch mint, leaves picked
½ bunch coriander, leaves picked
Put the quinoa in a pan and pour
over the chicken or vegetable stock.
Set over a high heat and bring to the
boil. Reduce the heat and simmer
for 10-12 minutes until cooked – the
quinoa should absorb all the liquid.
Remove from the heat, cover with
a lid and leave for 5 minutes more,
then tip into a bowl. Drizzle with 1
tbsp. olive oil and fluff up with a fork.
Put the spring onions in a bowl,
drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil and
add the lemon juice and zest and
1 tsp sumac. Season and mix well
to coat. Set a griddle pan over a
high heat. When you can feel a
strong heat rising from the pan
and the spring onions and cook
for 2-3 minutes on each side until
lightly charred. Whisk together
the remaining olive oil, sumac,
pomegranate molasses and honey.
Season. Stir the crumbled feta,
pomegranate seeds and herbs into
the quinoa. Drizzle over the dressing,
mix well and arrange the charred
spring onions on top.
Elderflower and apple
Digestive biscuit base
120g wholemeal flour
120g oat flour
5g salt
25g sugar
50g milk
10g malt vinegar
100g butter, softened
75g butter, melted
To make the digestive biscuits blend
all the dry ingredients together in
a food processor, then add the
milk and vinegar followed by 100g
softened butter. Tip onto a baking
tray lined with baking paper and
spread out to a thickness off 5mm.
Bake in a 180°C oven for 12-15
minutes until dry. Leave to cool
completely. Put digestive biscuit base
in a blender and blitz to fine crumbs.
Mix in the melted butter. Press evenly
over the base of a large rectangular
dish lined with baking parchment
to a thickness of 5mm. Flatten the
surface with the back of a spoon
and chill in the fridge.
Cheesecake mix
3 gelatine leaves
100g caster sugar
200g whipping cream
300g cream cheese
100g crème fraiche
110g elderflower syrup
20g lemon juice
Soak the gelatine leaves in iced
water for 5 minutes until soft.
Remove and squeeze to get rid of
the excess water. Put in a saucepan
with the sugar and 100g cream
and warm through gently to melt
the gelatine. Set aside. Whip the
remaining cream until half whipped
(ribbon stage). In a mixing bowl beat
the cream cheese, elderflower syrup
and lemon juice together until soft.
Gradually add the cream cheese
mix to the half-whipped cream, then
fold in the gelatine mix you set aside
earlier. Pour over the chilled biscuit
base and return to the fridge to set
for 5 hours.
Green apple sorbet
10 green apple skins
300g stock syrup
200g green apple juice
400g green apple puree
120g egg yolk
60g caster sugar
30g mineral water
Freeze the green apple skins
completely. Blend in a Paco Jet
machine, then refreeze.
Put the stock syrup, apple puree
and apple juice in a saucepan
and bring to a simmer. Leave to
cool completely. Whisk the eggs
and 50g water together in a bowl
suspended over a saucepan of
barely simmering water. At the same
time, put the sugar and water in
a saucepan and simmer until the
sugar dissolves. Increase the heat
until the mixture reaches 121°C
on a sugar thermometer (soft ball
stage). Leave to cool slightly.
Once the eggs are light and fluffy,
gradually pour in the liquid sugar.
Remove the bowl from the heat and
continue to whisk until cool. Add the
apple stock you made earlier and
transfer to Paco Jet beakers, leaving
a bit of space at the top of each
container. Freeze. Once frozen, add
the apple skins to the containers,
blend again and refreeze.
Green apple gel
300g green apple juice
400g green apple puree
10g agar-agar
Small drop green food colouring
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan
and bring to a simmer. Remove
from the heat and blend with a hand
blender for 10 seconds, then pour
into a tray and transfer to the fridge
to set. Once firm remove the jelly
from the fridge and blend again until
smooth, being careful not to over
blend. Strain through a fine sieve
them transfer to a squeezy bottle
and keep in the fridge until needed.
To serve
Remove the cheesecake from
the fridge and slice into individual
portions. Arrange the slices on
serving plates and decorate with
dots of the apple gel and the edible
flowers, if using. Add a scoop of
sorbet and serve. Edible flowers
Nick’s chicken curry
2 litres water
8 chicken legs
100ml vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thumb-size piece ginger, finely
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
800ml coconut milk
200g crème fraiche
½ bunch mint, leaves picked
and chopped
½ bunch coriander, leaves
picked and chopped
2 tbsp. chopped peanuts or pine
Basmati rice
800g basmati rice (soaked in
water for 15 minutes)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 red onions, sliced
2 bay leaves
5 cloves
½ cinnamon stick
7 cardamom pods
Put the chicken legs in a saucepan
and cover completely with at least
1 litre water. Add a little salt and
bring to the boil. Reduce the heat
to a simmer and cook for 15-20
minutes, skimming off any foam
that rises to the surface. Test to
check if the chicken is cooked
by removing one of the legs and
twisting it – if the bone pops out
the meat is ready. Remove the
remaining legs with a slotted
spoon and leave to cool. Strain
the cooking water into another
pan – this now becomes the stock
for the rice. Once cool enough to
handle pick the meat from chicken,
discarding the skin and bones.
Place in a bowl and cover tightly
with cling film. Set a large pan with
the vegetable oil over a low heat
and add the onion, ginger and
garlic. Cook until the onions have
softened but not coloured, then stir
in the spices and a pinch of salt.
Cook for five minutes, stirring often,
then pour in 500ml chicken stock
and reduce to around 100ml. Add
the coconut milk, bring to the boil
and cook for 5 minutes more until
thickened. Whisk in the crème
fraiche and set aside. To cook the
rice, bring 800ml of the chicken
stock that you made earlier to the
boil. In a separate large saucepan
heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
over a medium heat. Add the
red onion, cloves, cardamom,
cinnamon and bay leaf and cook
for 3-4 minutes. Tip the soaked
rice into the pan and stir well to
coat. Carefully pour in the hot
chicken stock and simmer for 15
-20 minutes, stirring every few
minutes, until the rice is cooked.
Drain well. Just before you’re
ready to serve add the chicken
to the pan with the curry sauce
and reheat. Serve the chicken
curry and rice garnished with the
chopped herbs.
van Durmen
Chef de Cuisine for The Chefs Palette, Cooking Studio,
Fairmont The Palm
All my early memories are of being in the kitchen as my father was a chef and I was always with him, learning
everything I could from a very young age. My grandfather was also a chef and every Christmas he would bake lots of bread
for everybody to enjoy, so cooking is a real family tradition. My father never made it easy for me though and even in my first
restaurant when I was 14, he told the chef not to pay me and to really push me. But it was this that inspired me to become a chef
as I loved it right away. I was working 12 hour days as a teenager but it was never hard because I liked it so much.
When I was 17, I started working in a two star Michelin restaurant in Belgium called Le Château Du Mylord and I would work
16 or 18 hour days. There was a lot of pressure and I was always tired. It is something that I will never forget as there was stress, you had
big fights with colleagues. But at the same time, I loved every minute of it because I was passionate about food. It was almost like being in
a relationship, it required a lot of passion.
I have always loved to travel and was lucky enough to work in Vietnam where I was training local chefs. It was amazing as food
throughout the country is great. It is here I developed a love of street food and that was all I ate when traveling around Thailand, Laos and
Cambodia. Spain is also a favourite of mine as my brother lives in Madrid which is just a perfect city for eating together and having big meals
at amazing little cafes and bistros.
When I’m in Dubai I love to eat at the restaurants that serve the classics. Le Petite Maison is great as the menu is simple but
everything is made perfectly. It is why when I go back home to Belgium I seek out traditional Belgian cuisine as it holds such rich
memories for me. And yes, the stereotype is true, we do very much love our potatoes, our chocolate and our hops.
I still cook at home every night as well, though I like to keep it simple. For me there is nothing better than a nice rustic
chicken soup or a nice piece of freshly baked bread with some pâté. It is so important to have that taste of home and to eat
something traditional.
I try to get back to Belgium as much as possible and always try to get back to nature as I love to relax in the
forest or up in the mountains. Working in a hotel in a big city, it is nice to get away from it all and I often visit my
cousin’s farm and simply go fishing. But my next big trip will hopefully be to Japan as I am desperate to
visit that country. And for sure I will eat all day long as even the street vendors do amazing food.
Going ahead I have no idea what the future holds and I am only 30, but I can
never leave a job without being successful. I spent three years at Café Belge
and when I left the restaurant had never been as successful. Now I
want to make Chef’s Palette a success.
Words: Adrian Back
Images: Fairmont; Food & Travel: iStock
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